By Rafael Balulu
The Mizrahi discourse has its own set of eloquent speakers. Although varied, one can say that it seems that in 2013 there are many voices who are speaking in the name of this complex identity. Comedy has always been a subversive tool that made it possible to get away with poking fun of the holiest of holies. Galit Hoogi and Tom Aharon are two new, sharp stand up comedians who are challenging everything we know about stand up that deals with Israeli culture and Mizrahi identity.
From the days of Avner Dan’s imitations of different ethnic groups to Shalom Asayag’s caricatured grandmother, Mizrahim and other cultural minorities were always ridiculed. Aharon, a computer programmer who grew up in Ra’anana and lives in Tel Aviv, enjoys taking jabs at the Israeli mainstream cultural and economic conversation, with no boundaries nor a shred of political correctness. Hoogi, on the other hand, is a film researcher and graduate of the Sam Spiegel Film and Television School whose stand up comes from a personal place. Mostly, she tries her best to make fun of herself. In this way, she is able to connect with her audience while planting the seeds of social critique. Both of them are hilarious, talented and vastly different from the world of Israeli stand up comedy. I met up wit them for a short discussion in the days leading up to an evening dedicated to Mizrahi humor in Tel Aviv.
Tom: I enjoy telling jokes in a specific context because my identity or origin allows me to do so. When I talk about Ashkenazim, it’s different than Ashkenazim talking about Ashkenazim. It’s a tension I really enjoy. I try to look at it from a new angle, since the topic has been talked about to no end. The world of standup only has room for new angles, the kind that no one has ever paid attention to. Lets just say that it’s not academia and we also want to laugh at those who are part of this discourse.
Galit: What does it mean to laugh at them? I’m not trying to do something new – that’s less interesting to me. I feel like an...Read More