A triptych of Israeli humour at the Edinburgh Fringe
It's good to see three Israeli comedians pitching up at the Edinburgh Fringe, with a show free of government sponsorship and therefore – contrary to allusions in the title – not in danger of being boycotted by the local pro-Palestinian brigade.
It's the first day of the trio's Edinburgh run and they radiate rawness and enthusiasm in equal measure, perhaps even a touch of frustration at a multi-national audience that's only willing to go so far in its support for the boys from the Holy Land.
Ofir Kariyo, in his first overseas performance and fresh out of reserve duty, is a genial compere on a stage backed by the Israeli flag. Wearing a keffiyeh (traditional Arab headscarf) around his neck, the black-bearded 29-year-old Tel Avivian, whose descendants hail from Turkey and Yemen, jokes: "I'm an Arab Jew – the worst nemesis for a white supremacist."
Gil Rosenberg, appearing in his first comedic sortie outside Israel, is a hippyish 39-year-old, jeans-wearing Jerusalemite, sporting a black Beatles t-shirt. "Gil looks like Jesus – if Jesus went through bankruptcy," quips Kariyo warmly as he hands over the stage. Rosenberg plays a nerdyish, self-mocking character, lamenting his lack of luck with the ladies and at times it's more awkward than amusing. "In Hebrew it's funny," he protests at one point.
David Kilimnick, 42, who emigrated from Rochester, New York, has been dubbed "Israel's father of Anglo comedy" by The Jerusalem Post and he restores the comic equilibrium. A youth director at Shir Hadash in Jerusalem, he lifts the show on his rabbinical shoulders and lugs it across the stage in an overtly physical performance, brimful of anger, quasi-religious sexual frustration and parodic arrogance.
He plays with paranoia to brilliant comedic effect and riffs risibly on antisemitism in a delightfully in-your-face act that drips with delicious irony on the nomadic Jewish condition. As he reasons before making aliyah: "I could move to Israel and live with Americans or I could move to Florida and live with Israelis."
While three comics for the price of one is certainly a draw, Rosenberg could ooze more confidence and Boycotted on the whole could do with a better flow to proceedings.
By Lee Levitt
Boycotted: Comedy from Israel runs until Monday 26 August. 12.40pm (exc. Sat). £7.50, £5 concs. Champions of Festival @ The Scotsman, Edinburgh, EH1 1TR. www.edfringe.com