So who were fun­nier, the Zion­ists or anti-Zion­ists?

While Jackie Ma­son en­ter­tained a huge crowd at the ZF’s Is­rael 60 show at Wem­b­ley Arena last week, at an­other gig across town, co­me­di­ans less well dis­posed to the coun­try were mark­ing the oc­ca­sion their own way

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS & BOOKS -

Wem­b­ley Arena, Lon­don

THE OR­GAN­IS­ERS sold the event us­ing Jackie Ma­son’s name as a draw, but in re­al­ity the au­di­ence I s r a e l 60 Gala Show got a lot more ex­cited a b o u t a l e s s e r known per­former on the night. Sarit Hadad is Is­rael’s big­gest pop star and even counts Madonna as a fan — but she is hardly known in the UK. So it came as a sur­prise that the young Zion­ists in the 7,500 -strong crowd last Thurs­day night went bonkers over her — singing along to the lyrics, wav­ing their Is­raeli flags, and do­ing the conga in the aisles as she sung her brand of Mid­dle East­ern-in­fused pop. The sense of sol­i­dar­ity in the au­di­ence was over­whelm­ing.

When the 29-year-old singer-song­writer showed off her fast fin­ger work on the dar­buka (a Mid­dle East­ern drum), it proved how ver­sa­tile the for­mer Euro­vi­sion Song Con­test en­trant is.

In com­par­i­son, the king of kosher com­edy Jackie Ma­son went down like a lead gefilte fish. His jokes about In­dian doc­tors, gay in­te­rior de­sign­ers and “ sch­warzer” US pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates felt dated and un­funny and caused some mem­bers of the au­di­ence to walk out. His im­pres­sion of Henry Kissinger and an ad­mit­tedly rather funny gag about Moshe Dayan proved how long he has been us­ing this ma­te­rial.

The for­mer rabbi got a few laughs as he de­liv­ered his punch­lines which in­vari­ably in­cluded the words “ putz” or “ sh­muck” or “ yenta”, but mostly out of a kind of nos­tal­gia.

His ob­ser­va­tion that Barack Obama had not done any­thing par­tic­u­larly note­wor­thy apart from be­ing black — and even then he is only half-black as his mother is black but his fa­ther is white — verged on the of­fen­sive. No less ques­tion­able was his line: “If you or­dered a black couch and some­thing the colour of Barack Obama turned up, you wouldn’t be happy.”

His gags about Is­raelis not look­ing like they are re­lated to the less than ath­letic Jews of the di­as­pora were well ob­served and rel­e­vant to the event. “In Is­rael they are tough Jews,” he said. “I know be­cause when I saw them I thought they were Puerto Ri­cans.”

At cer­tain points dur­ing his im­pres­sions, he de­scended into a se­ries of splut­ters and spits, which were sup­posed to be funny but were ac­tu­ally an ob­vi­ous cover for a lack of dex­ter­ity.

There was a sense that while Bri­tish Jews hold Ma­son close to their hearts as the most demon­stra­bly Jewish comic in the world and quite clearly proIs­rael with it, his per­for­mance here showed it is high time for him to give up the Borscht Belt act and hand over to the new gen­er­a­tion of Jewish co­me­di­ans. ALEX KAS­RIEL

PHOTO: JOHN RIFKIN

Jackie Ma­son was in his usual un-PC mode at Wem­b­ley Arena. Some mem­bers of the au­di­ence walked out

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