Three middle-aged men stood talking to a brunette in Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market.
Nope, it’s not the beginning of a joke, but it could have been with this crew.
The four were comedians — Brad Upton, Vinnie Favorito, Avi Liberman, and Kira Soltanovich — and they were touring the market as a side part of their trip to Israel to perform in Comedy for Koby, the bi-annual comedy show benefitting The Koby Mandell Foundation.
The foundation — named after Koby Mandell, a 13-year-old boy who was brutally murdered by Palestinian terrorists in May 2001 — runs camps and therapy sessions for families who have lost loved ones to terrorism.
Boston native Favorito hesitated before extending his hand to shake mine. At the Monday evening show, the comedian quickly learned how much religion is interwoven in daily Israeli life.
He interacted with a woman from the audience, not realizing she doesn’t touch men other than her husband or family members.
“Yesterday I touched and kissed a woman with a hat in Beit Shemesh,” he said. “She didn’t say anything, but the audience went nuts.”
Luckily, the audience thought the blunder was “hysterical,” said Favorito.
He said that although they’d only done one show so far, Israeli audiences have been polite. “They really appreciate what the comedians are doing for the cause. They’re not here to heckle,” Favorito said.
It was a first trip to Israel for all the comedians except for Israeli-born Liberman, who has organized and hosted the show for the last seven years.
Upton, who’s from Seattle, said he liked what he saw of Israel so far.
Interesting factoid: Israeli hotels don't have bibles. #whoknew
— Brad Upton (@BradUpton1) December 9, 2014
“I’m loving it,” he said. “We’ve only been here for 24 hours, but it’s been great.”
The December 2014 tour kicked off on December 8 and will continue with shows in Ra’anana, Gush Etzion, Modi’in, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. For more information on the shows, check out http://www.kobymandell.org/