Words by Vanessa De Lisio
News as entertainment, lying to your children and Jews suffering arthritis from counting their money – Michael Shafar deftly navigates and commentates on how we define ourselves and others, and tells us how he justifies eating ‘Kosher Bacon’. If you think Adelaide’s German Club is a strange choice for a Jewish comedian’s stand up show, you’re not alone as we all started our Wednesday night a little unsure about whether we should be laughing as Shafar poked fun at the location, his family and some of the stricter Jewish beliefs.
With a German Kölsch beer in one hand and sitting two feet from the stage in the very bunker-like Weinkeller Cellar of the German Club, I attempt to time my drinking in between Shafar’s witty stories and friendly interactions with the crowd, as he assures us that as gentiles, it is totally alright that we laugh about his aunty not being able to open her bottle of arthritis pills. Shafar has found a funny and engaging way to put a modern twist on his Jewish heritage, and the show covers everything from circumcision to swastikas. He shares stories of his life, his relationship with his Jewish girlfriend and what his friends tell their kids they’re eating when they’re really eating pork.
Michael Shafar is much more than just a Jewish comedian though, pointing out the hypocrisies in giving blood, the political agenda of ice cream andthe lies about engagement rings, while proving that none of us are defined by any one part of our personalities. We are all just trying to find a way through our lives, whether that is through the accidental activism of not getting married, or with dad jokes about murder and marriage. Shafar does what all good comedians do, and holds a mirror up to the world and asks, what on Earth are you thinking with this?
Even though the 2018 Fringe is the first time Shafar has performed in Adelaide, we don’t have to wait a whole year to enjoy his sharp sense of humour again, as he also writes for ‘The Project’ on Channel 10. Although, as he points out, stand up is one of the last vestiges of true free speech without bias, which is part of the magic of a Fringe show, because you never quite know what you’re going to get. A good Fringe show is also about more than just an entertaining hour of your life, it’s about creating an experience. So, grab a schnitzel to go with that beer and take a new look at the German Club and the world in which we live, through the eyes of this intelligent young comedian.