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Comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding brings his act to Israel

Throughout the set, he mixed his witty, heartfelt political commentary with raunchy humor.


APRIL 1, 2024 03:22

 Canadian stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding in action in Jerusalem. (photo credit: HANNAH BROWN)
Canadian stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding in action in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: HANNAH BROWN)

Gay, gentile Canadian stand-up comedian Daniel-Ryan Spaulding, known for his “Power Gay” act and his Israel advocacy, greeted his first Jerusalem audience at Zappa on Friday with the words, “Welcome to all the Orthodox Jews by the way. I’m happy to have you. Buckle up, Shabbat Shalom!”

A significant portion of the audience were Modern Orthodox Jews, while another part of the crowd were gay couples, looking more comfortable showing affection for each other in public than they usually do in the capital city that Spaulding has dubbed “Jeruze.”

He had just performed in two sold-out shows at Zappa in Tel Aviv – he calls it “the Vive” – where he has been doing his act for several years. But despite performing in Jerusalem for a slightly different demographic than he is used to, Spaulding mixed the comedy he has managed to find in the current situation, especially the clueless Left’s support for an Islamic fundamentalist terrorist organization, with jokes and routines inspired by his life as a gay man. 

And to say the audience loved him is an understatement – they laughed at every line and applauded nearly every minute. 

Spaulding, who wore a Star of David necklace and a dog-tag calling for the release of the hostages, acknowledged what had brought so many of the audience to the club, saying, “I made my first video on October 11 because I was so shocked and horrified by people’s reactions, especially these open-minded queer people who love terrorism.” 

A theater stage (credit: MOHAMMAD JANGDA/FLICKR)

Jumping between empathy for Israel and R-rated jokes

He said that after he made the video, he hesitated to post it on Instagram and TikTok, but then decided, “If I’m going down, I’m going down with the Jews, because that’s how it works. First, they come for the Jews, then it’s the gays. That’s how it works. You had your Star of David, we had our pink triangle.”

He went on to talk about “how f***ed up the world is. People think that I’m outspoken, ‘You’re so outspoken,’ and I’m like, ‘What have I said? Don’t kill Jews!’” Throughout the set, he mixed his witty, heartfelt political commentary with raunchy humor. Having warned the observant Jews to buckle up, he launched into a joke about what kind of gay sex Jesus would have preferred, and looked at a young audience member in the first row, saying, “Don’t worry, Shlomo, you’ll figure it out.”

He went on that way for most of the set, alternating between R-rated jokes and professions of empathy for Israelis and Jews and alarm over antisemitism around the world, directing occasional comments to the kid he dubbed Shlomo and a young woman in the audience he called Shoshana, whom he kiddingly blamed for dancing too wildly at Pride events. 

He noted that he is proud to wear a Star of David necklace but that, “All these queer hipster Nazis, they’re so obsessed with signals and virtue signaling, because they’re such shallow, pathetic people that they’ve started mocking me or criticizing me for wearing a Star of David. Like, ‘He’s not actually Jewish! That’s cultural appropriation.’” 

But the necklace was given to him by a fan who said, “I was able to pull her out of a state of depression with my comedy… and I’m not going to be lectured about cultural appropriation by a bunch of white girls in Brooklyn wearing keffiyeh scarves.” 

He also talked about gays in the IDF, and suggested building a gay homeland in Tanzania, or maybe Zanzibar, once the war is over, and then went on to a number of very funny bits inspired by his life in Germany, where he lived for a number of years, and his decision, after his weight ballooned during the pandemic and he developed a drinking problem, to have gastric sleeve surgery and get sober. 

This highlighted another way that his performance was different from most stand-up shows: It was deeply moving. He mentioned that he had been bullied as a child and gay teen in Canada, which seems to have influenced him to stand with Israel. When his weight went up to 194 kg. he said, “It took me a little while to figure it out, but I realized the only way I was going to get to where I wanted to be was by being kind and patient with myself…

“You’ve got to cut yourself some slack and be kind to yourself. I knew the only way I was going to get to where I wanted to be was to visualize it and to think of all the steps it would take to get there and to commit to each step, every little step, every day, until I got to be right here, with you, in Jerusalem. And here I am!” 

At the end of his act, he accepted a Bring Them Home Now shirt from the woman he had been calling Shoshana, and finished up by donning it and saying, “Bring them home now!”


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