It took the coronavirus to bring together five familiar faces for a reunion of “Zehu Ze!” the long-running Israeli comedy show that went off the air 22 years ago.
Shlomo Bar-Aba, Moni Moshonov, Gidi Gov, Doval’e Glickman (familiar to some viewers from his role as Shulem Shtisel) and Avi Kushnir gathered on March 26 for a one-time reunion on Kan 11.
The original cast members spent most of the 30 minutes making fun of the coronavirus and its most obvious props — face masks, sanitizing gel and social distancing.
The show, which ran from 1978 through 1998, always poked fun at the obsessions of Israeli life, from the decreasing level of the Sea of Galilee and Israeli folk dancing or the local fandom of TV show “Dallas” and the benefits of working for the Israel Electric Company.
Not much has changed, 22 years later. The 1991 Gulf War saw jokes about wearing gas masks, and there were plenty of punchlines and gags in the reunion show about the facial coverings of the current crisis.
Moni Moshonov reprised his Babah Buba character, an exaggerated Mizrachi rabbi who drinks sanitizing gel instead of arak. Avi Kushnir, playing an Arab doctor, complains that he’s apparently good enough to fix a patient’s shoulder but “not good enough to serve with you in the government.”
There was a musical moment too, when the gang sang “Paranoia,” along with musician Shlomo Gronich, and the final skit brought Moshonov, Kushnir and Gov back together in their famous roles of three elderly men sitting together on a park bench — now seemingly more age-appropriate than ever.
Best bit? Moshonov, as a more forgetful park visitor, tells the other two that quarantine isn’t so bad.
“My grandkids came to see me,” he says.
“Yeah?” they say.
“Yes,” he says. “They were wearing gloves and masks and they took my wallet and my television.”
“Are you sure it was your grandkids?”
“Of course,” he said. “They called me ‘Saba.'”
“I told them, ‘You know what?’ Take the keys, next time you can come in and take what you want.'”
For Hebrew speakers, the entire first episode is available below.