An Israeli sketch comedy satirizing episodes from Jewish history, from the Bible to modern Israel.
The show is notable for its very irreverent tone and political content, pretty much running on Refuge in Audacity and Crossing the Line Twice. This provoked the ire of various Moral Guardians who initially attempted to ban it, which, of course, only served as free publicity.
The show employs very specific humor and assumes at least passing familiarity with Jewish and Israeli culture; non-Israelis, even Jewish ones, will probably find it somewhere between confusing and incredibly offensive. On the other hand, it can be a great opportunity to learn a bit on Jewish and Israeli culture, if you are so inclined.
This show provides examples of:
- Always Someone Better: The Rambam (Maimonides) for the Ramban (Nachmanides). Everybody keeps confusing them and then being disappointed when it’s not the former, who is the more famous one.(Ironically, given that in his own time Maimonides was actually a figure of controversy and Nachmanides defending from backlash was a major reason that that changed.)
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: David and Bathsheba to Solomon.
- Anachronism Stew: One of the priests' segments decipts a pilgrim from Argentina... in 2000 BC.
- Studio executives argue with Steven Spielberg about the very grave tone of his major motion picture featuring mass extermination: Jurassic Park.Executive (as Spielberg is leaving): oh, and about Schindler's List? Cut the slapstick.
- And when Eliezer Ben-Yehuda walks into his house to find his son Itamar with a bunch of porno magazines, he's enraged. The reason? The magazines are all in Yiddish, and Itamar's suposed to grow in an all-Hebrew environment as part of its revival as a spoken language. (Itamar was widely touted as the first person in millennia to grow-up with Hebrew as his first language; ben Yehuda was opposed to other Zionists who wanted the language in the future State of Israel to be Yiddish—-others suggested that it be English or German.)
- And then, in 1960 Buenos Aires, two Mossad agents happen upon the safehouse of none other than Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun, uding ridiculously fake assumed identities. The two are expecting (but dreading) a specific kind of guest, which only makes things worse when the two Nazi-hunters say they're looking for a fugitive Nazi called Adolf. They mean Eichmann, who Hitler rats out as living next door.
- Studio executives argue with Steven Spielberg about the very grave tone of his major motion picture featuring mass extermination: Jurassic Park.
- Betty and Veronica: Rachel and Leah, with Jacob as Archie. Rachel is pure, chaste and loving; Leah is chain-smoking, foul-mouthed and very sexually adventurous (and played by a man in drag).
- Blood Knight: Right before the operation that would eventually snowball into the First Lebanon War starts, Rafael Eitan boasts about eating Yasser Arafat's face off and drinking strawberry-flavored yogurt out of his skull, and responds to Prime Minister Menachem Begin's warning that a large-scale operation with Lebanon would result in a war both with Lebanon and with Syria by noting that it causes a funny sensation in his pants.
- Camp Gay: Joseph and his fabulous technicolor coat.
- Hanna Rovina: "Alas, the woe that has befallen me!"
- Alexander Penn: "I shall never forget how we met one rainy night, man and X, X and man…" (this is a reference to one of his famous poems, the beautiful-as-it-is-controversial "Confession").
- Moses: "shitty people."
- Corrupt Church: The original priests at the Temple of Solomon, who spend all their time having elaborate barbecues of sacrificial meat and can't care less about their supposed flock.
- Depraved Bisexual: David finds time for Michal, her brother Jonathan, and probably their father Saul too.
- Despair Event Horizon: Albert Einstein crosses it in his days during the Swiss patent office, which leads him to support developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction in 1939.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The kids who taunted Elisha the Prophet for his baldness sure sound like little shits, but feeding them to bears may be considered slightly overboard.Elisha: So... let's say that your son went a bit too far, and my bear went a bit too far, and put it all behind us.
- Divided We Fall: Used for the blackest of comedies in a sketch about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: About half the show is ran on stealth parodies of contemporary Israeli issues.
- Drama Bomb Finale: An unusual variety in the third season finale. Nothing dramatic actually happens, but the closing sketch is a montage of various characters reciting David Avidan's heartbreaking existentialist poem "Power of Attorney" note with completely straight faces.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Absalom, what with his luscious hair getting him tangled in a tree. He seeks help from two children who keep referring to him as a lady, much to his annoyance.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- An early sketch about the Judgement of Solomon depicted Solomon as a boastful king, very similar to his father, instead of the more familiar Emo Teen.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Miriam calls Moses Flitza - which translates to Farty.
- Emo Teen: A couple of skits show King Solomon (at this point, Crown Prince Solomon) as a surly, black-clad teenager who writes angsty poetry on how everything is meaningless and insists his name is actually "Ecclesiastes".
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: Teen!Solomon insists that his collection of erotic poetry (aka Song of Songs) is a metaphor for his relationship with God. No one is convinced. (As You Know, this is a joke about an established orthodox interpretation that claims exactly that, which in view of the very explicit nature of the text is somewhat… troubling.)
- Everything Is Racist: Jewish gangsters Bugsy Siegel and Mayer Lansky apply this against an Italian mob enforcer who comes a-threatening, claiming that every other sentence out of his mouth is anti-Semitic. By the end, he's so flustered and apologetic they easily overpower and kill him.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Nachmanides in the Disputation of Barcelona. Even though they wanted Maimonides, he manages to hold his own very well and even sways the (Christian) crowd in his direction. He is rewarded with expulsion from Spain.note
- Forced Transformation: At the end of the Alpinist sketch, a member of the IDF Sorcerer Unit appears and turns the investigating officer into a frog.
- Fratbro: A skit shows David Ben-Gurion and Yitzhak Ben-Zvi studying together in university in late Ottoman Constantinople. Ben-Zvi makes it very clear they're there to blend into Ottoman politics and promote Zionist ideas among its leadership. Ben-Gurion is mostly concerned with partying and making out.
- Freudian Slip: a skit starring Sigmund Freud is built on this exclusively.Sigmund Freud's Dad: So tell me, where did you meet? I'm very horny to- curious to know.Sigmund Freud: Dad!Sigmund Freud's Dad: What do you want from me?! I meant to ask Silvia! Let her take off her clothes... answer!
- Germanic Depressives: invoked in the Eurovision Nazis skit.Nazi Leader: It’s good to see everyone here again.Nazi 1: *nods*Nazi 2: *nods, smiles slightly*Nazi 3: *nods*Nazi Leader: Well, enough with all those emotional outpourings!
- Godwin's Law: The "Nazi comparisons are hysterical and manipulative" line of argument is invoked in Nazi Germany, with a guy calling the actual Hitler "Nazi" getting panned for ruining the discourse. The skit ends with Hitler approaching the guy and comforting him with "don't mind them. Bunch of fascists."German-Jewish Woman: My grandmother is a Holocaust survivor (for now)! Do you have any idea how this word makes her feel?!
- Gratuitous English: Joseph occasionally gives orders to people in English.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Hitler's very first memory is of a bunch of people popping out of time machines to try and kill him, "but I was such a cute baby…"
- Ho Yay: The Zugot (“couples”) sages are presented as actual couples. Two of them go to a swinger party where they get to debate Torah with other sages.Shammai (after the long-time debate partner of Hillel the Elder storms out in jealous rage): Lucky we didn’t tell him we had sex.
- Insane Troll Logic:
- HaShomer uses this to presuade people to let them guard their fields:Farmer: Why would [my Arab guard burn my field]?
Israel Shochet: Well, he's angry!
Farmer: Why is he angry?
Alexander Zade: Well, he's unemployed!
Farmer: Why is he unemployed? He's guarding my field!
Both Shochet and Zade: Not anymore.
Israel Shochet: We're your guards now.
- The Season 4 premiere decipts a young Benjamin Netanyahu during his furniture salesman days using this to convince people to buy a new closet - by subjecting their current closet to the very same arguments he would later employ against his political opponents.
- HaShomer uses this to presuade people to let them guard their fields:
- Jews Love to Argue: All the time. One of the more memorable skits is the meeting of the Elders of Zion where they get hung up on arguing whether an octopus in an antisemitic cartoon is real or a metaphor. And then the octopuses are shown arguing too.
- Large Ham: Famous stage actress Hanna Rovina Stanislavskis her way through a variety of everyday situations such as going to the doctor and ordering food at a café.
- Love Dodecahedron: The Nili espionage network. Yosef Lishansky loves Sarah Aaronsohn, who loves Avshalom Feinberg, who loves Rivka Aaronsohn… they're so busy bickering about it that the resistance efforts completely fall apart (somewhat Truth in Television, at least according to the gossip of the time).
- Mad Libs Catchphrase
- Joseph's dreams all follow the formula "And in my dream... I am a [self-glorifying description of Himself as something] and you around me are [Insulting description of the people around him, beginning with their number]... oh yeah, and you all kneel before me."
- The High Priest in the Temple of Solomon responds to pilgrims with a "What a coincidence, my son is also called [name of pilgrim]."
- Mildly Military: The military music bands. Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan isn't too happy about this and decides to disband them. When they resist, he shoots them (all Truth in Television except the shooting part).
- No One Gets Left Behind: Averted in the Madhat Yusuf sketch.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: Hasamba, a fictional group of heroic children who fought for the country in its early days, had their headquarters in a Tel Aviv park that in Real Life was a well-known meeting spot for covert homosexuals. Misunderstandings ensue.Closeted Gay: So what's the plan?Hasamba Commander: We’re going to screw the Arabs!Closeted Gay: This night is already turning out to be more than I expected…
- Pig Latin: It appears (or rather, its Hebrew Equivalent, the Bet language) in a skit where Eliezer Ben-Yehuda chastises Eliezer Zamenhoff for just sticking "-os" at the end of every word in order to make Esperanto, while he struggles with actually creating new words for everything wholesale.Zamenhoff: Ohos, Ya'akovos! Hellos! [beat] Sos, this is my friendos, Ya'akovos. Inventer of the Bet-language...os, and a Billionaireos.Ya'akov: Hebellobbo. Pleabeased tobo meebeet youbou.Ben-Yehuda: ...Hebellobbo.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The (bafflingly real) IDF Alpinist Unit.
- The Scottish Trope: In a parody of "That’s Not My Name" by the Ting Tings, God complains about no one ever using His real name (it is, as Monty Python's Life of Brian taught us, blasphemous to pronounce). He starts to say it at the end of the song, but then disappears.
- Serious Business: The Eurovision Song Contest...Truth in Television.
- Sexy Whatever Outfit: A sketch about Esther accusing Mordechai of trying to prostitute her to the Persian king ends with him telling her that girls will dress as her for Purim for generations to come.Esther: What, they'll dress like prostitutes?Mordechai: Only in high school.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: a few.
- Yafa Yarkoni, "The Singer of Wars", tries to do a children's songs cassette but the gory images just keep resurfacing.
- Fistuk, the hero of a popular children’s show from the 80's, returns home in a bit of a state after witnessing the Sabra and Shatila massacre.
- An anonymous Jew who participated in the slaughter of Persians at the end of the Book of Esther is haunted by the images. He tries to impress the awfulness of the situation upon his fellow Jews, who ignore him to celebrate the first-ever Purim.
- One of the priests' segments ends with a homage to the infamous Mr. Creosote sequence from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. They do eat a lot, those priests.
- A sketch showing Marcel Marceau fooling Nazis with his pantomime routine ends with them screaming "we should have killed all the mimes when he had a chance!"
- In the Fistuk in Sabra and Shatila skit, Fistuk fails to explain the horrors he'd witnessed to his sidekick Rega, so he decides to use an educational cartoon. Said cartoon is Waltz with Bashir.
- One sketch describes Ha'Ari and Baba Sali meeting at a diner, with Baba Sali demonstrating how effectively he can fake talking to God.
- In another, Abraham tells a friend about this brilliant new idea he had: worshiping a god with no idol, who can't be seen, and is about nothing.
- And there's also a sketch when an archaeologist first the greatest dig in history, evidence for the existence of the House of David - only to be corrected by his colleage that it's evidence for the existence of the House of the Dude.
- Starving Artist: The Kasit group of poets (Alterman, Shlonsky, Penn) are hardly starving, but they cheerfully and repeatedly refuse to pay for food, claiming that they don’t have a cent.
- Stepford Smiler: Bathsheba is seemingly Happily Married to her beloved Doovid, but deep down, she's deeply resentful of the fact he killed Uriah to marry her and dreams of getting into power as Queen Regnant. In fact, she plots to make sure David chooses Solomon as his heir over Adonijah because (she thinks) Solomon would serve as a compliant puppet who'll happily enact mommy's feminist agenda into law.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: A couple of disciples approach the Lubavitcher and inquire whether he really is the Messiah. His answer is… ambiguous.The Lubavitcher: You should definitely not hang posters all over town, sized 20X30 meters, saying "Welcome Our King the Messiah" with my photo, yes? Standing like this, half-profile, with my hand like this (raises his hand). Don't take pictures. Now. (Disciple takes picture) Don't take pictures.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: David Levy is constantly made fun of by his Likud peers, especially after he announces his bid for the party leadership after Menachem Begin retires.
- Those Wacky Nazis: Crop up a lot, naturally.
- Warrior Poet: Avraham "Ya'ir" Stern. He gives commands to the Lehi mostly in poems, which isn't particulary effective, and even helped expose a Lehi safehouse. In fact, only after his death, under the new commander Yitzhak Shamir, does the Lehi become effective fighting against the British.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: A group of covert post-World War II Nazis plot the ruination of Israel… by making it lose the Eurovision Song Contest year after year. This is a dig at the Israeli tendency to ascribe defeats in international competitions to political motives and/or anti-Semitism.