Jeremy Piven on Performing Stand-Up Comedy in Israel: ‘It Was the Best Set I Ever Had’
Jewish American comic and actor Jeremy Piven performed his best stand-up act ever when he was in Israel last year, he said on Wednesday.
The “Entourage” star participated in a panel of comedians who discussed their past trips to the Jewish state and the comedy industry in a Zoom call and Facebook Live event organized by the non-profit group Creative Community for Peace.
Piven traveled to Israel for the first time in 2016 on a trip sponsored by the Omri Casspi Foundation. He was part of a delegation of NBA players and celebrities and during the trip he had his “second bar mitzvah” celebration in Jerusalem.
He went back to Israel in 2019 and performed as a stand-up comic. He said on Wednesday about the experience, “It was the best set I ever. I’m not just saying that. I don’t know what it was…for some reason it kind of felt really incredible, and I had a great time and so did they [the audience].”
He added, “I think because they are so incredibly present, and they’re dealing with danger on another level, as an audience I’ve never seen an audience that was more present than that.”
Piven — who currently does over 200 stand-up shows a year — also cited Jewish-American comedian and actor Elan Gold as a mentor.
Piven additionally elaborated on his bar mitzvah at the age of 13, which he said took place in a church. He explained that he was comfortable being on stage during his Torah reading, but that his Hebrew was “viciously mediocre.”
Regarding his “second bar mitzvah” in Jerusalem in 2016, he said it “was the greatest time of my life.”
He added, “it was incredible to also share this experience to all these pro athletes that had never been to a bar mitzvah. They were using the yarmulkes as frisbees, no one knew what to do with them.”