In face of attacks, Israelis take stab at jokes
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In face of attacks, Israelis take stab at jokes

A spate of homemade videos and websites on the cutting edge of comedy show it’s never too soon to laugh the jitters away

Jessica Steinberg covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center.

Or Paz, Naomi Rosin and Tal Sheffer becoming friends in their video (Courtesy Or Paz)
Or Paz, Naomi Rosin and Tal Sheffer becoming friends in their video (Courtesy Or Paz)

Humor? It’s a pretty common response to fear. Israelis, caught in the midst of a near-daily procession of attacks that have continued for more than a month, are always looking for a reason to laugh.

And so, as the spate of knife attacks and terrorist incidents puts the country on edge, a coterie of comedians — some professional, some not — are honing their gallows humor.

There are endless spoofs from local satirical shows, such as “Eretz Nehederet” (“A Wonderful Country”) and “Hazinor” (“The Pipeline”), featuring hapless security guards and goofy self-defense sendups.

One memorable clip from “Hazinor” shows a guy doing everything with his Magnum ice cream popsicle in hand — including playing piano, washing the dishes, running and shampooing his hair — spoofing on an Israeli border policewoman in Afula who helped neutralize a terrorist in the bus station without letting go of the half-eaten, chocolate-covered popsicle in her hand.

לא עוזב את המגנום שלוMatan Abramovitz

Posted by ‎הצינור‎ on Sunday, 11 October 2015

But it may be the lesser-known funny people posting videos on YouTube and Facebook who get even bigger laughs.

That was the aim of Or Paz and Naomi Rosin, two friends and sometime-comics who are gaining viewers every day with their look at a stabbing scenario.

“You can’t help but wonder, what if someone tried to stab you and you did this?” said Paz, an accounting student who produced his own video, “The Worst Accent in the World,” with his friend and fellow comic, Naomi Rosin.

“This” is a nonsensical bit of comedy that Paz put together with Rosin, in which his character, a knife-wielding Arab, is confronted by hisRosin’s Arabic-accented Hebrew-speaking Israeli, his intended victim, as she tries to convince him that she’s really an Arab.

המבטא הכי גרוע בעולם

ככה תגנו על עצמכם מול מחבל!(הנה מערכון שמבוסס כולו על כמה שנעמי מלכה ומוכנה לחלוק עם כולם את העובדה שהיא ממש גרועה במבטאים)צילמה: Lital Tasha Maizel – Photography & Editing האלופה

Posted by Or Paz on Tuesday, 27 October 2015

“I love Arab food,” she tells him. “Like French toast?”

When he tells her to stab another Israeli in order to prove that she is really an Arab, that Israeli tells her that he’s an Arab as well.

Then the three end up eating plates of hummus together, until Rosin turns on both of them — utilizing a Russian accent this time — and stabs both, telling them that it’s revenge for Mother Russia.

“It’s nonsense but for real, because the situation is so crazy that people are acting insane,” she said.

The two wrote and filmed the video over the course of a week, said Paz. They filmed in a hidden alleyway in Tel Aviv, said Rosin, so that no one would see them with knives and assume the worst.

“I kept on thinking that we could end the day in prison,” he said.

From Shalom Shore's website, 'Have I Been Stabbed Yet?' (Courtesy HaveIBeenStabbedYet.com)
From Shalom Shore’s website, ‘Have I Been Stabbed Yet?’ (Courtesy HaveIBeenStabbedYet.com)

Then there’s the insider’s edition of the current situation from Shalom Shore, an Old City of Jerusalem resident who strung together a series of satirical multiple-choice questions for his “Have I Been Stabbed Yet” website.

“It’s an absurd idea,” said Shore, a blogger and copywriter. “It’s the things we have to come to terms with given the news we’re dealing with.”

For Shore, who lives just down the street from one of the attacks, the website is just a way to deal with an unreal situation.

“Do you live in Jerusalem,” is the first question. “Hell, no!” is the first option for an answer.

“I came up with the questions within about 15 minutes,” he said. His partner was app developer Dan Bystrisky.

So far, there have been 200+ visits to the site, and over 100 people filled out the survey. (Those are better stats than the ones achieved by his “Kill Me, I’m Jewish” T-shirts, which are offered for sale at the end of the survey. Only one of those have been sold so far, said Shore.)

There’s also Rogatka, a Jerusalem-based production house that suggested employing a ball of fire to combat attackers wielding knives.

“We were sitting in the studio on one of those crazy days,” said Shlomo Blass. “I had ordered a sandwich that came an hour late because the delivery person hadn’t shown up for work, because he was shot in some kind of demonstration. It just showed how crazy it all is.”

Two hours later, they had shot the video in a backyard using a smartphone and special effects from their studio to create the ball of a fire.

איך לנטרל בקלות וביעילות תוקף חמוש בסכין. שתפו!

איך לנטרל בקלות וביעילות תוקף חמוש בסכין. שתפו!

Posted by Rogatka on Sunday, 11 October 2015

It was just for fun, said Blass, but even lighthearted content can be powerful enough to get an idea across.

“We were making light of all these videos that we’ve all been exposed to lately, in which some 30-second clip will make you into some kind of Rambo who can protect you against a crazy attacker,” said Blass. “Those videos are just trying to help, but it shows you how absurd this whole situation is.”

He may have been referring to videos made by someone like Krav Maga Girl Lior Bitran, who shows viewers how to take down an attacker.

The 26-year-old karate black belt has been studying self defense since she was four years old, and then took on Krav Maga, an Israeli self defense system, when she went into the army.

She began teaching Krav Maga to civilians when she finished the army, offering courses for women’s self defense because she doesn’t want women to be “wet rags.”

“I want every woman to know how to defend herself,” she said.

Bitran turned to videos a month ago with her YouTube channel, Krav Maga Girl, just as the knifing attacks began around Israel.

“It’s to give Jewish people confidence,” she said. “Krav Maga is Israeli and we want to give them our invention to defend themselves.”

Yet the proof may be in the number of views. Krav Maga Girl’s video has just over 10,000 views, while Blass’s ball of fire has already reached more than a million.

Laughter is clearly the best defense mechanism. Or it may be that it’s more fun to laugh than it is to practice Krav Maga.

Blass said he initially put his video up on Rogatka’s Facebook page, which has some 5,000 followers. From there, it began accruing views, and was then picked up by “Hazinor” as well as several news and morning shows.

It can be the simplest ideas that gain traction, said Blass, who added that they’re currently working on another video.

For now, though, he’s known as the guy who can hold a ball of fire. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

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