The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour 

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour, ImprovOlympic. Comedy is no substitute for social work or a UN Security Council session: it can't heal wounds, tear down walls, pay debts, or eliminate tensions. Comedy's lone miracle is granting a simple human perspective; its transformative power lies in making us feel better by understanding why we feel so bad. The Arab/Israeli Comedy Hour is like a self-help group for victims of stalled peace efforts and embedded media. It sticks close to the heart, and its performers are extraordinarily likable: former Northwestern students Hassan Arawas (a Kuwaiti born to Lebanese parents) and Roni Geva (an Israeli native) attempt to vault over the usual lies and statistics in this brisk overview of the Middle East conflict.

At its best, the evening gets lost in unfettered imagination. Closing the show is an enchanting 15-minute parody of West Side Story--rechristened "West Bank Story"--that promotes the sort of understanding of Middle East tensions that doesn't come across when the performers cling to a feel-good, indeterminately ethnic My Big Fat Greek Wedding model. Writer-director Aaron Freeman's efforts are palpable, but the writing never equals the pair's generous performances. And since the show is cut short at less than an hour, there's barely enough time for a little spiritual healing at the expense of Saddam, Sharon, and Arafat before the bombs start to drop.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Give $35/month →  
  Give $10/month →  
  Give  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Nick Green

Agenda Teaser

Galleries & Museums
August 20
Galleries & Museums
Artists Run Chicago 2.0 Hyde Park Art Center
September 01

Popular Stories