Ephraim Kishon (1924-2005) was a Hungarian-Israeli satirist. (As he would've said: If a humorist dies, people call him a satirist.) During his life, he worked as a goldsmith, art historian and journalist, and also made theater plays and movies based on some of his stories. Also liked chess (the Board Game, not the musical) very much.
All Jews Are Cheapskates: Kishon called himself a cheapskate, although this was well justified by the high taxes in Israel.
Arranged Marriage: Sa'adya Shabatai wants to sell his daughter to a bus driver for 350 Israeli shekels. Then, a kibbutznik (who has no money) falls in love with her. Hilarity Ensues.
Artistic License Film School: Averted, in one story Kishon demonstrates how different real filmmaking is from this trope: Production runs up costs even if nothing happens on set, continuity is Serious Business, and a simple scene may need twenty shots until it's right. Add a Primadonna Director... let's just say, it's not fun for the poor guy who ended up as an extra (even worse: unwillingly), having to play the role of the random guy who cries "Oy!" when the star steps on his foot.
Badass Grandpa: Kishon would go to the annual army training even when he was old enough not having to do it anymore
Bait and Switch: For example, if he describes the Sabras. (An Israeli cactus fruit, or an Israeli born in the country.) "On the outer side, very prickly, but on the inside, completely inedible."
Batman Gambit: A theatre's director who uses his knowledge about a Caustic Critic to make sure he'll get a good review. The critic is head of an organization for Romanian-Israeli friendship, so the play is Romanian. Leading part goes to an actor who happens to have the same name (though no actual relationship) with the publisher of the Critic's writings. And so on.
The Beautiful Game: Kishon is a fan too, and dreams of a world where referees are everywhere to keep bullies and such in check.
The Big Rotten Apple: After talking disparagingly about NYC in an interview, Kishon becomes very popular with NY-haters from all over America, and makes a comedy tour based on this trope. Where he makes jokes like "The average Texan midget is three inches taller than the average New York giant!" Subverted at the end, when he develops a different attitude.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: Often happens. One example: Schlesinger's girlfriend is also his (artistic nude) model. At the beginning of the play, she complains that "they" (the public) are staring at her again.
Bungling Inventor: Kishon and Jossele / Erwinke do this once (OK, in theory). They come up with stuff like round tissues (you don't have to fold them, just crumple them), hats made of glass (if you drop it, you won't have to pick it up anymore) and watermelons crossbred with flies - so the seeds will remove themselves.
Cannot Tell a Joke: Kishon, surprisingly (so he claimed). As he experienced when he told the following joke. OTOH, people tend to laugh at all kinds of things he said when they were meant seriously.
There's a blackout at night at the house of Menachem Begin. He and his wife walk around, can't see anything and walk into each other. She exclaims: "Oh my God, is that you?" He answers: "When we're among us, 'Menachem' is just fine!"
Contrived Clumsiness: When he discovers that the woodcut of Frankfurt which a Jacob Sinsheimer had given as a Bar Mitzvah gift to Kishon's son Amir bears the dedication "To my dear Jake, for your Bar Mitzvah, from uncle Samuel", they do the drink spill on him.
Could Say It But: One politician uses this to get bribed with a villa near the seashore. ("Where?" - "In Herzliah.")
Damned by Faint Praise: Kishon's invited by a couple for some dishes. After praising the wife's work with superlatives, he decides to throw in a little bit of criticism, to not appear as a Yes-Man. Unfortunately, the fruit salad was the only food she made all by herself.
A Degree in Useless: Prof. Dr. Honig who earns so little money in his job as a teacher that he has to sell sweets to the kids. When they tell him that a teacher shouldn't do this, he quite his job.
Deliberate Values Dissonance: With Saadya Shabatai, the Yemenite Jew. As Kishon wrote, "they are about 2000 years behind western civilization". Used in one story where a guy wants to marry Saadya's daughter, but the father demands a high dowry-in-reverse (i.e. essentially selling his daughter).
Saadya: "You see? For fifty pounds, all you get is woman like Mrs Comrade. Can't cook, can't clean, doesn't look good, only knows how to talk, talk, talk."
Derailed For Details: Kishon tries to tell a joke to a Swiss gentleman, who then uses this trope. The dialogue ends like this:
Kishon: "It doesn't matter which tunnel! For all I care, it could be the Schlesinger tunnel!
Swiss: "The Schlesinger tunnel? Now that's funny! Ha-ha-ha..." At the end, Kishon is so frustrated and ashamed, he hangs himself with an indestructible Swiss tie.
Digging Yourself Deeper: After Kishon wrote a story about an unruly student named Taussig, a brute approached him and wanted to know how Kishon dared to besmirch his family's name. Kishon's answer that he had had no such intent and only chose the name because it was funny didn't help. Then Kishon suggested that he could have chosen as well a different name, like Shmulevitz - which happened to be the brute's wife's maiden name...
Dirty Communists: Kishon was not only imprisoned by the fascists, but after WW2 by the Communists too.
Less extreme version during Kishon's kibbuz time. At that time, equality was enforced more than nowadays, described by him thusly: Either everyone in the kibbuz had to own a radio, or noone at all. Parodied by him when he demanded: "I have a cold. I demand that every comrade sneezes!"
Disproportionate Reward: When a friend helps him out (Kishon needs a 10-agorot coin for the parking meter, so he won't get a traffic ticket), he is sheerly wrecked by guilt and goes so far (with some help from his wife, admittedly) to give his car to his helper. Fortunately for him, then the friend needs ten agorot and doesn't have one - but Kishon does.
Dissimile: Also a trope he was very fond of. Like here:
"Ephraim, please, leave me alone!" my wife murmured. Except that she wasn't murmuring, but talking quite loudly. In fact, she was shouting.
The Ditz: One of the most stupid people Kishon ever met was a policeman, when he was making his movie Sallah.
Policeman: "What's the name of your movie?"
Policeman (ponders, then shakes head): "Haven't watched that one yet..."
The Yemenite boy Achima'az who worked in a shoe store, was supposed to fetch a pair of shoes from another outlet, but managed to send Kishon's shoes to a Rabbi Sol Sämisch in the USA instead. It Makes Sense in Context.
D.I.Y. Disaster: Kishon wants to apply a new coat of color (silver, to be precise) on their oven, but the work is so much fun for him that he starts to paint lots of things in their house silver - the pictures' frames, the ladder, the flowers, the lawn, the mailman's temples... so when his wife returns, she threatens to go back to her mother, but she can't, because all her suitcases are painted too...
Don't Call Me Sir: Kishon dreams of meeting the late Austrian emperor Franz Joseph, is struck with awe and stutters, searching for the correct title. The anointed one replies: "No need for this nonsense. Call me Franzl."
Double Standard: Kishon and hitchhikers. When he was one, he disliked how car owners wouldn't pick him up, having (as he thought) sorry excuses. When he had a car himself, he used exactly the same excuses.
Eloquent In My Native Tongue: Many stories, especially earlier ones, deal with immigrants in Israel having trouble to learn Hebrew. As Kishon quipped, it's almost as easy as Chinese, and after three or four years, they'll be perfectly able to say in fluent Hebrew:
"Tell me the time of the day, but in English, if possible."
Failing a Taxi: When he is in Paris. Even praying in Hebrew and cursing in Hungarian won't help.
Fee Fi Faux Pas: Happens when he visits France. At first, Kishon dares to suggest to his French hosts that Napoleon Bonaparte was anything but perfect. Then, he offers them some cigarettes - but notices too late that they're of the Nelson brand. And when he says goodbye, he tells them when in London, he plans to stay at hotel Waterloo at Wellington street...
Flopsy: Kishon did this (he wrote) when his wife needed gas and there was no other way to get it.
For the Evulz: One story has Ephraim's baby daughter, Renana, constantly losing her favorite pacifier and making a huge scene over it every time. One night he chooses to spy on her and finds out she takes the pacifier and hides it somewhere, just to mess with her parents. He then notes that he's relieved, because it means she's just a healthy toddler.
Hollywood: He depicts it as a place where everyone is a crook who constantly backstabs and badmouthes everyone else. At the end, one of them manages to do this to himself.
Hypocritical Humor: Two nosy neighbors one day knock at Kishon's door, because they've been watching his apartment with a binocular (their hobby) and can't agree whether the piece of bubblegum they saw stuck somewhere was red or yellow. Kishon wonders how two adult people can make a fuss about such an unimportant thing. And besides, the bubblegum was green!
I Am Not A Number: In the hotel, whenever guests need something, they have to say their room number. Which Kishon finds pretty odd. - And then, he abuses the system, by ordering all kinds of luxuries and giving someone else's room number.
I Know You Know I Know: In a scene with a bagel salesman. The narrator thinks he wants to fool him into buying lower quality bagels, and goes through lengths with this trope, only to find out at the end that all the bagels always were fresh, and he suspected an innocent guy lying.
Intelligible Unintelligible: Taxi drivers using their radio channels, sounding like this: "zipp - grrr - click - popocatepetl - sevenbumbum - krk - kabunzu - shruckluck - zipp", but understand each other perfectly.
I Reject Your Reality: In one story, a guy approaches Kishon in the early morning and claims that the Histadruth building had been blown up. When Kishon looks out of his window, it's there. The other guy keeps denying until Kishon uses brute force. Then he claims that it has been blown up - and rebuilt meanwhile.
Ironic Echo: One politician manages to do this by himself. At first he dismisses the need of his country for a symphony orchestra, since very few people at all will listen to them and concludes "I am no artist, but an economist". Then he insists on building another factory, although the existing ones in this business already produce more than they can sell and are a money drain, talks about his vision of a flourishing industry and ends with "I am no economist, but an artist".
It's Easy, so It Sucks: In one story, one friend of them gets addicted to aquarium fish. He prefers the plain-looking striped Pajama Fish to another fish which looks like it was made of sparkling gems - but is too easy to breed.
Motor Mouth: Shulamith Ploni, a woman who encountered him as a witness for her wedding. He screwed it up.
Also, some street salesmen.
My New Gift Is Lame: For several years. He would give his wife a beautiful floor lamp (each time), while she'd give him fencing equipment (he doesn't fence), a set for writing letters (he doesn't write letters) and a hookah (he doesn't smoke).
Name's the Same: Manfred Toscanini, whom my readers know from earlier stories, but is still not related to the famous conductor.
Once for Yes, Twice for No: Kishon's buddy Jossele / Erwinke once invents a code like this, when his boss forbids making private calls during the work: He and his co-worker will let the phone ring X times without taking the call. 43 times means "have you seen the latest Woody Allen flick already?" 46 times means "I did, but it wasn't that special", and so on.
Ouija Board: He once met some people too interested in the occult. Since nothing happened when he joined the session, he gave the glass a little push by himself. The "spirit" they contacted introduced himself as "MR 4 K?LLL", which the head spiritist interpreted as a spy's code name. Later, they contacted Aaron (Moses' brother) and asked him for his favorite Jews. Answer: "David... Judah Maccabee... Ben Gurion... Ephraim Kishon..." But is it his fault that Aaron likes reading good satires?
Overly Narrow Superlative: As he wrote, due to the fact that a state Israel didn't exist for 2000 years, they have the first anything in Israel for 2000 years. The first driving school, the first broom factory, and he himself wrote the first collection of humorist short stories for 2000 years.
Panicky Expectant Father: Once wrote a short play about three of them (all named Kohn), and confessed having been this himself.
Paper-Thin Disguise: One play about an Israeli football player seeking greener pastures. He runs off the field during a game, is caught pretty soon and returns to the game. Or so it seems, because shortly after he tries to kick the ball - which is in front of his feet! - and misses. Only then everyone notices that the huge, bald guy seemingly has turned into a dwarf with long locks - who turns out to be the player's nephew.
After a Frenchman catches his wife in flagranti (he got an anonymous letter that she cheats on him), she starts ranting at him how he dares to be so suspicious.
When the guy he picked up on his motorbike suddenly accuses Kishon for having thrown a frozen chicken at his head (not only untrue, but impossible, Kishon didn't work at a butchery ever), after many other accusations, Kishon uses this.
Yes. And if you should ever come back to the shop again, I'll throw a frozen turkey at your head.
Repeat After Me: When a student wants to join a group of wannabe terrorists, they're disturbed by the waitress when he's saying the oath.
Goldberg (the leader): "Careful. Don't speak. The waitress is coming."
Jacob: "...careful, don't speak, the waitress is coming... sorry Goldberg, but that's an idiotic oath."
Ridiculous Procrastinator: Several artisans - one plumber, one painter and the most egregious example would be a carpenter who once promised to make him a table in a few weeks, and delivered after years.
And once, Kishon wrote a story about how he procrastinates writing a funny short story... which ended up becoming a funny short story, though it's hard to tell how and when.
Sad Clown: Kishon uses the Pagliaccio joke in a different context. The joke starts the same way, but at the end the patient says instead: "Doctor, I've been at the circus, I've seen Pagliaccio. He wasn't funny at all. He was the unfunniest clown I've ever seen." The doctor breaks down: "But mister... I'm Pagliaccio!"
Scary Black Man: One of them wants to mug him when he's in NYC. Kishon manages to confuse him by speaking Hebrew and acting clueless about the mugger's intention. When he tells his relative how he was not-mugged and what he did she is shocked.
Kishon: "I won't have any spare time in the next three years."
Kishon: "My lawyer advised me not to do this."
Kishon: "Frankly, I just don't want to."
Cigar: "100000$." And a few weeks later, he delivers a script that is so funny that people will pee themselves.
Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In one story, the Israeli government decides to outlaw breathing to fix the budget with the fines. In one scene, two controllers catch someone breathing, but let him go immediately when he says he's an MP.
Self-Made Man: Subverted when he describes the "oldtimers", people who immigrated to Israel with nothing but a suitcase, and some decades later, they still own that suitcase.note And nothing more.
Serious Business: The ultra-orthodox Jews studying the bible get parodied by a fictional TV show about people who memorize the telephone book of Israel.
Sheltered Aristocrat: Despite not being noble (heh), one politician comes along as this when he has to walk among the common people one day. He doesn't even understand that you don't tell the bus driver where you want to go to.
Shoehorned First Letter: In one story which involves a crossword. The young Israelis trying to solve "South American capital with four letters" try "Air's", but Kishon demonstrates his superiority by changing it to "Rima". (He needs the R for Raskolnikov.)
Short Story: His favorite, although he also wrote some big novels.
Snowball Lie: At the beginning of one story, Kishon and wife just want to escape from a boring party. But the host of the party is very helpful and offers to escort them to the place where Kishon supposedly has Serious Business to do. At the end, he ends up owning 30% of a new factory for washing machines. It Makes Sense in Context.
Stranger in a Familiar Land: After the end of the Cold War, he returned to his birth country, Hungary. And quipped that he felt like an idiot who was looking for a penny on the street that he lost fifty years ago.
Tactful Translation: He once did this for a fight between one of his Hungarian relatives and a shopkeeper. He did it so well that they made peace. At the end, he thought he should try the same thing with the USA and the Soviet Union.
Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: A woman named Bertha mistook him for the guy who made the drawings her dead husband liked so much, in the weekly newspaper he read. Kishon wrote for a daily, non-illustrated newspaper. That is, in the story. It tends to overlap.
The Triple: Often exaggerated by including impossible things, like here: "I told him [an American] about our kibbutzniks, how they live: One hand on the ploughshare, the other one on the rifle, the third one on The Bible."
The Un-Smile: Kishon making photographs noted that many people put up a "skull-like grin" when they're photographed. Later, he dreams of The Grim Reaper, manages to photograph him, and notes the "skull-like grin" afterwards.
We Sell Everything: At a gas station in the US. After he tries to get rid of the salesman who's seemingly able to sell him a grand piano, lessons for his son, therapy in case the son doesn't want and an expert in case he's childless, Kishon has the idea to have his stories written by the man. Which explains something.