Israel’s comedy sketch television show “The Jews Are Coming” fails to live up to the standards of its many successful predecessors. The show just isn’t funny.
Israeli television has had a number of brilliant comedies over the years which have offered the country a taste of social and political satire. One such show was “Zehu Zeh” (That is All) which was sort of a cross between Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. The comedy sketch show, “The Jews are Coming,” premiered its second season last week with a double installment. Unfortunately, the program offers no real satire or political critique and worst of all it is not in the least bit funny.
I did not crack a single smile while watching these two episodes. I never saw its first season so I cannot comment on whether this is a let down from the past. But I can say that it can only get better from here. The show’s biggest problem is that it is in bad taste while not being funny.
The first sketch of the first show was about how the people in government ignored the warnings about an attack on the eve of the Yom Kippur War. It depicts then Prime Minister Golda Meir, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, IDF Chief of Staff David Elazar and others all partying the night away in a night club when someone comes in to warn them that the Egyptians are about to attack.
They of course ignore the man. Cut to the next day where we find all of the people passed out drunk on the floor of the night club when an alarm sounds. It’s the alarm announcing that the country has been attacked. Golda Meir is awoken by it and complains about the noise and checks her watch. It’s 2 P.M. That is the time on the day of Yom Kippur when the Syrian and Egyptian armies launched their attacks on Israel.
Where to begin? First of all, the government did expect an eventual attack by the Eve of Yom Kippur and began to call up the reserves. Meir, Dayan and the generals were all on alert for an attack when it finally did come. Also, they may have been secular, but they would not have been out on the town on Yom Kippur.
But what is strangest about choosing this subject for such a sketch is the timing. Why would anyone be thinking about this today? If it were on the 30th or 40th anniversary of the war then maybe. But forty two and a half years later?
If such a sketch had aired on Israeli television during the six month period between the end of the Yom Kippur war and the resignation of Golda Meir and here entire government in response to the public outcry over their failures, then that would have been timely. It would also have been a daring example of political satire in that it would have condemned the then sitting government for what happened. And even then it would have gone overboard. But today?
Most importantly, it just wasn’t funny? If you are going to do something outrageous and/or in bad taste then you at least have to be funny? The show’s writers should learn from South Park, Family Guy and the Monty Python movie The Life of Brian.
The program also seems to be obsessed with making fun of the various biblical stories about people like the forefather Jacob. But these sketches have no punchline.
In one, the Israelites have just crossed the Red Sea and are celebrating. They talk about how the Egyptians were swallowed up by the waters. Then one man notices that he lost his wallet and that it must have fallen out during the crossing so he asks Moses to part the waters again. Moses tries to explain that he can’t do it just for the man’s wallet and this leads to a lot of shouting and arguing. That’s it! Nothing else happens. Again – no punch line, no wit and no point.
Finally there was a sketch in the second episode on Yigal Amir, the man who murdered Yitzhak Rabin. Again it is not timely with the 20th anniversary of the Rabin assassination having come last November. But it is the content which is deplorable.
We see Amir in his prison cell working with a bunch of different computer circuitry. He turns out to have been building a time machine which takes him back to Tel Aviv on November 4th, 1995, the night he murdered Rabin. There Amir stops his younger self on the street moments before the killing.
Is Amir trying to stop his younger self? Is he so remorseful for what he did or at least sorry to be spending the rest of his life in prison that he now wishes to do the right thing. No! All he says to the young Amir is “Achla,” which basically means – Good for you or Go for it!
Bad taste – definitely! Pointless – yes. Funny – definitely not! There is no joke here nor any attempt at a punchline.
Considering that one of the show’s stars is Moni Moshonov, one of Israel’s funniest and most brilliant actors, who has previously appeared in “Zehu Zeh” and more recently in the “Kzarim” sketch show it is quite surprising that “The Jews Are Coming” lacks any humor at all.
If you live in Israel and do not speak Hebrew well enough to understand the show, you are not missing out.