Orange Humor Not Blue
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Orange Humor Not Blue

It looked like a rough night for orange at The Yellow Submarine. Monday was stand-up comedy night at the hip musical club in Jerusalem’s Talpiot neighborhood. In the audience (most of the 130 plastic seats were filled) were the "Anglos," English-speaking Israelis and tourists, many of them religious Zionists. Onstage was Avi Liberman, a 33-year-old comic from Los Angeles.

"I just fulfilled a dream of mine," he announced. "I bought an apartment in Israel."

Applause.

"It’s in Gush Katif. I paid $35 for it."

Laughter.

Gush Katif is a major community in Gaza, whose Jewish residents will be evacuated when Israel withdraws from the territory in August.

Orange is the color of Gaza’s supporters, displayed ubiquitously on ribbons tied around automobile aerials and in apartment windows.

For five nights, Liberman and three other American comics (Cathy Ladman, Dwayne Perkins and Bruce Smirnoff) told their jokes, a combination of political humor and standard observational stuff, to crowds in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Raanana.

This is the third year that Liberman, who was born in Israel and grew up in Houston, has brought fellow performers here, part of a growing trend of stand-up comedy to defuse the tension of the intifada, the Gaza withdrawal and other pressures of life in Israel.

Performers receive a nominal salary to work in his shows here, which are subsidized by the L.A.-based Standwithus Israel advocacy group.

Liberman, who is Modern Orthodox, serves as MC of the shows, combining political material with stories about his day school background.

Proceeds of this year’s shows go to Crossroads, an intervention program for English-speaking youth-at-risk.

After his Gush Katif joke, Liberman stayed away from politics. "I’ll be upfront dealing with the situation," but not dwelling on it, he says: reminders aren’t needed here. Yaakov and Deborah Wiener, a middle-aged couple who made aliyah from Kew Gardens Hills, seven years ago, sat in the back of the room Monday night. An orange ribbon was tied around Mrs. Wiener’s purse. A supporter of the Gush Katif settlers, she took no umbrage at Liberman’s Gaza humor.

"It wasn’t offensive," she said. "It was funny. We need to laugh."

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