Having broken his year-long abstinence from press interviews, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday tried his hand at improvisational humor on “State of the Nation,” a current events comedy show.
Netanyahu was barraged by the panel of four comedians with questions on issues ranging from the skyrocketing cost of living to the ongoing peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. While he chuckled plenty at jokes about national politics, the prime minister’s main defense tactic in the face of the withering jests was playing the straight man.
Which is not to say he didn’t crack any jokes.
In a recent scandal Netanyahu’s wife was accused of poor treatment of their home’s custodian. In one instance the custodian alleged Sarah Netanyahu had called him at 3 a.m. to complain that he had bought milk in a plastic storage bag instead of a carton. At the start of the show, the premier jokingly asked if he could have “a cappuccino with milk from a bag.”
Asked about tensions with the US over Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s criticism of the Obama administration, Netanyahu said that sometimes a “speaking diet” was in order.
But the prime minister seemed chiefly intent on maintaining a statesmanlike demeanor. He repeated the phrase “in all seriousness” several times and reiterated his warnings about the nuclear threat posed by Tehran (“Iran is no joke,” he said), called on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and emphasized the importance of Israel’s relationship with Washington.
Still, the prime minister appeared to take the constant flow of comedic knockdowns in his stride. “I really enjoyed myself,” he said at show’s end.
AP contributed to this report.