There’s something about the comedy hip-hop group The Lonely Island that screams Jewish. The group is an assemblage of three comedians who’ve made videos together since junior high school, and eventually became regular features on Saturday Night Live.
Two of them, Akiva Schaffer and Andy Samberg, are Jewish (Jorma Taccone is not). No doubt the group’s style of comedy has its roots in Jewish performance, one part Borscht Belt and two parts Adam Sandler. (Samberg is Sandler’s heir apparent, and the two have costarred in a father/son movie together earlier this summer.)
One of The Lonely Island’s most unexpected side-effects is Haeshech Haboded–an Israeli comedy hip-hop trio that’s been translating the Lonely Island’s hits into Hebrew–and creating similarly-demented music videos. The Lonely Island has a teenage sense of humor, as songs like “I Just Had Sex” will attest; Haeshech Haboded’s version, “Asiti Sex,” is every bit as explicit and hilarious.
But the humor of both bands comes primarily, not from their inappropriateness, but their bizarreness. The wonderful peculiarity of the song “I’m On a Boat” (watch the original English or the Hebrew version) attests to this. The Israeli video was recorded on the Tel Aviv beach, and features the Mediterranean coast prominently, with three grown, burly, hairy men donning captain’s uniforms and water wings. It’s mind-bogglingly weird, and mind-bogglingly funny–even if you don’t understand the Hebrew.