Gefilte Fish Out of Water

Wild & Crazy Comedy


A couple of weeks ago, my friend Leah and I rode a sherut to Jerusalem to see a sketch comedy & improv show by a new English-speaking group called Hahafuch. (Join their Facebook group!) 


Cafe Afuch is a type of hot coffee drink in Israel.  It means “upside down coffee,” but it’s basically just a cappuccino.  So, Hahafuch is a play on words on that – like “haha funny” – get it? 

Anyway, the show wasn’t held in a bar or club like we expected.  It was held in the theater of an old “absorbsion center” for American Olim (place for new immigrants in Israel).  Sad story.  The place used to be thriving, but the owners lost everything thanks to Bernie Madoff.  For realz.  #sad  Anyway, after the sherut, Leah and I hopped in a taxi, and we were kind of like WTF when it dropped us off on a quiet, residential street.  We were on the right path, b/c we saw a Hahafuch sign, but we were like, climbing over fences and walking past abandonded buildings and whatnot.  I was ready to start making Friday the 13th/Jason noises (ch-ch-ch-ch…kill-kill-kill-kill), but finally we came upon the theater, and all was normal again.  We paid for tickets and entered an already packed theater, as the show had already started.  My friend Debra had saved us seats. 

The first act was improv.  Some very funny stuff, with contributions from the audience and without a net for the performers. 

Then, how much did I love the fact that two very talented women came out and did an acoustic set of Madonna’s 1999 top 20 hit (and one of my favorites), Beautiful Stranger!  Honestly, this made the whole trip worthwhile on its own. 

After intermission, the performances switched to sketch comedy.  We liked this even better!  Some *very* funny stuff!  Like this sketch, “Benyamin Netanyahu’s Speech as Translated by a Struggling First-Year Ulpan Student.”  Benji Lovitt played Netanyahu.  Benji is part of this social media savvy Israeli crowd of mostly Olim I’m getting to know on Twitter.  Benji was the straight guy in this sketch, doing a really authentic and kinda angry/passionate Netanyahu.  The student would translate a few sentences right, and then botch something to comedic effect.  (Like you can imagine Netanyahu was talking about keeping Jerusalem our undividied capital, and the student would say something obviously wrong, like, “So we can have more onions!”  Then, Bibi would give him an awesome stink-eye, and yell the word in Hebrew again, and the poor student would repeat it incorrectly again, making it worse (“Onions!”) 



Another sketch I really enjoyed was one called “Aliyahonics Anonymous.”  It was a bunch of Olim like me bitching about the often incredulous and rude behavior from native Israelis directed at immigrants. 

Here’s a shot from a “Weekend Update” style segment, complete w/ video still shots on a screen for added effect. 


Here’s two funny videos the group prepared in advance to add to the show as multi-media elements.  This first one’s a travel commercial spoof about taking a trip to the “real” Israel, where Israelis try and make tourists look like “friars” (suckers). 

This one’s sort of a “man on the street” style news package segment, making fun of Israeli’s without their consent, in the style of old school Letterman, or Billy Eichner’s Creation Nation

[Damn, sidebar!  Billy Eichner is just so damn funny !!] 

Anyway, so is Hahafuch, and I will be going back to their next show – and trying to get my friend Anna Becker Barkin to audition for them!


Bo vs. No vs. Lo
October 31, 2009, 12:04 am
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Funny Hebrew, Petey


Is my dog gonna speak English or Hebrew?

Yoda Jeremy said there are 7 main commands to teach a dog:

– sit

– stay

– down

– off

– leave it

– come/let’s go

– make (go potty)

No! isn’t really a command (you’re supposed to use Off! or Down! instead), but c’mon – you know you’re gonna use No! a lot, too.

And that’s the thing – is it gonna be No! (english) or !לא (Lo! hebrew)?  Hmm, I kinda wanna use Lo! Like, it feels natural and fun to fire off 3 quick/consecutive Lo!-Lo!-Lo!‘s when he’s trying to chew something I don’t want him to.  And also, I really like !בוא (Bo! hebrew) instead of Come!

But – Bo! sounds like No! sounds like Lo! I don’t wanna make it harder for him than it has to be.  I gotta go with Come! over Bo!, even though I’m kinda into Bo!.  But I guess it makes no difference if I choose Lo! over No!


Along similar lines, I guess I gotta call pee-pee “sissy”, because I pee-pee sounds too much like Petey.  (Besides, “sissy” is what my family called it for our dogs, so it’s an ‘homage’, if you will.  I just find that word a little embarassing to use, that’s all.


Suck Dust
August 26, 2009, 5:13 pm
Filed under: Funny Hebrew


There are many more words in English than there are in Hebrew.  It’s something like one million words in the English language to only about 80,000 words in Hebrew.

As someone who’s very expressive, this totally makes me prefer English.  I want more ways to say stuff, not less!

However, the upside to this equation for Hebrew is that it ends up often being a more poetic language.  It’s graphic and simple.  What it sometimes “loses” (compared to English) in preciseness or specificity, it gains in directness and common sense clarity.  An example:  in English you could be super precise describing the onset of a storm coming out to sea – a low pressure system on the north end of the sea brought on high winds and swells to thirty feet – while in Hebrew, you might say what translates to – a storm was “thrown” to the sea, and if the storm got really bad you would translate it as – it came and “stormed” against them.  There are much better examples, but you get the idea.  It’s less descriptive…but less diluted, too.

Where am I going with this?  Actually to a funny place.  We were learning the word for vacuum cleaner this week.  It’s a smichoot, which is a Hebrew noun structure that combines two nouns to make a third word.  For instance, the way you say “hospital” in Hebrew is to take the words for “house” and “sick” and put them next to each other.  It becomes basically “house of sick.”  A coffee shop is “house of coffee.”  A school is “house of book.”

So, how do you say vacuum cleaner in Hebrew?

שואב אבק

Know what it translates to?  SUCK DUST.

That means that when you’re asking someone for the vacuum cleaner in Hebrew, you’re saying, Can I please have the suck-dust?  Our suck-dust is broken.  We need to go to Best Buy and get a new suck-dust.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is funny.

Funny Hebrew Sentence of the Week
August 11, 2009, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Funny Hebrew, School


נגע רגע

(nega rega)

It translates to “Touch me in a moment.”  It’s not grammatically 100% correct; actually נגע ברגע (inserting the ” ב” is what you’d have to do to get “in” into that sentence).

But so what.  It almost works, and “nega rega” is funnier.  Almost as funny as “tatoosie schnott.”

My favoritest Hebrew sentence ever.
July 21, 2009, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Cultural Differences, Funny Hebrew, Pot Luck


Sometimes Hebrew words just sound real silly to my English ears.

The funniest sentence in all of Hebrew has to be: . תטוסי שנת שעבר  (Ta-toosee schnot sha-ah-var).

Ha !!  Ha!!  Ha!!  Tussy!  Snot!  LMFAO

[Technically, my Hebrew sentence is incorrect.  “Schnot” is only a word if it’s part of a smichoot – a combo word made up of two other words, like “brother-in-law.”  But that doesn’t make it any less funny.]