Eyal Kitsis
Eyal Kitsis
Photo: AFP
Eyal Kitsis

Israel TV satirist says grateful to politicians but needs a break

Eyal Kitsis, frontman of Channel 12's smash hit show 'Eretz Nehederet', says that although political turmoil is 'television gold', he would rather Israel have a stable government and make a 'boring program' instead

Published: 03.22.21 , 21:51
As Israel heads into its fourth election in two years, the presenter of the country's favorite satirical TV show has a request, and he's only half-joking.
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  • "I would like us to finally have a stable government and make a boring program," says Eyal Kitsis, frontman of the Channel 12 show "Eretz Nehederet" (A Wonderful Country).
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    Eyal Kitsis
    Eyal Kitsis
    Eyal Kitsis
    (Photo: AFP)
    As much as Israel's political turmoil may be straining the patience of the electorate, it has been television gold because "reality is crazy", Kitsis told AFP.
    "Elections and politics have really become entertainment in this country. Our challenge as a satirical program is to add a layer to it, to take it to the next level."
    On the show, a deadpan Kitsis often interviews a fake Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, portrayed as a sneering character with a shiny gray-purple combover.
    When asked tough questions, the pretend premier replies in meaningless syllables that mysteriously make the question disappear, keeping with "Bibi's" reputation as a political magician who survives any challenge, even a corruption trial.
    While not running for office, Netanyahu's wife Sara is portrayed as the true leader of Israel who makes key decisions such as appointing the head of the Mossad spy agency.
    Netanyahu's luckless rival turned short-lived governing partner, former army chief Benny Gantz, is depicted as a mild-mannered "Incredible Hulk" character who tries to muster up rage as waves of former supporters call for his resignation.
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    מתוך "ארץ נהדרת"
    מתוך "ארץ נהדרת"
    'Eretz Nehederet's' Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu portrayed by actor Mariano Idelman
    (Photo: Keshet)
    While Israel's last three elections have pitted Netanyahu against Gantz, Tuesday's vote sees him facing a new cast of characters — Yesh Atid's Yair Lapid, Yamina's Naftali Bennett, and New Hope's Gideon Saar.
    "All of a sudden there was a lot of suspense," said Kitsis. "There are so many interesting topics that it also energizes the writing."
    The show's creators have had fun mocking Saar and pitting him in a hip-hop battle against Netanyahu and the other right-wing contenders.
    "Once Saar announced his party, also on the right, it led to a dynamic we didn't have in the previous elections," said Kitsis.
    As Israel looks ahead to another election with a highly uncertain outcome, the show's co-creator and producer Muli Segev wonders what's next, especially if Israel ends up with a stable government.
    "How are we going to do another season without elections?" he said.
    "We've gotten used to this situation where the country is always on the edge, always living an electoral campaign.
    "Elections are always good for our program, even if not for Israel."
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