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Ephraim Kishon was a Hungarian-Israeli satirist. (As he would've said: If a humorist dies, people call him a satirist.) During his life, he worked as a goldsmith, art historian and journalist, and also made theater plays and movies based on some of his stories. Also liked Chess (the Board Game, not the musical) very much.


Tropes used in his works:

  Saadya: "You see? For fifty pounds, all you get is woman like Mrs Comrade. Can't cook, can't clean, doesn't look good, only knows how to talk, talk, talk."

  • Derailed for Details: Kishon tries to tell a joke to a Swiss gentleman, who then uses this trope. The dialogue ends like this:

 Kishon: "It doesn't matter which tunnel! For all I care, it could be the Schlesinger tunnel!

Swiss: "The Schlesinger tunnel? Now that's funny! Ha-ha-ha..."

At the end, Kishon is so frustrated and ashamed, he hangs himself with an indestructible Swiss tie.

  • Dirty Communists: Kishon was not only imprisoned by the fascists, but after WW 2 by the Communists too.
    • Less extreme version during Kishon's kibbuz time. At that time, equality was enforced more than nowadays, described by him thusly: Either everyone in the kibbuz had to own a radio, or noone at all. Parodied by him when he demanded: "I have a cold. I demand that every comrade sneezes!"
  • Dissimile: Also a trope he was very fond of. Like here:

  "Ephraim, please, leave me alone!" my wife murmured. Except that she wasn't murmuring, but talking quite loudly. In fact, she was shouting.

 Kishon: "How much? Wieviel? Combien?"

Greek Ferryman: "Cinquecento!" [1]

Kishon (self-conscious): "Ha ha ha! Six thousand lire, not one peso more!"

Ferryman: "OK."

  • Eagle Land: He wrote on America, among other things, that Americans believe:
    • You can get steaks only in America
    • An American family without an American boy and an American girl at the respective age of nine and seven years isn't a real American family
    • You can learn everything from For Dummies books, even "How to become president of the USA: In 10 easy steps".
    • Bismarck is a herring, Frankfurt a sausage factory and Napoleon one of the greatest brandys in world history.
  • Explaining the Soap: With The Forsythe Saga. Even the two burglars join them watching.
  • Failing a Taxi: When he is in Paris.
  • Film Felons: Erwinke once pulls this off.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Once has an Israeli organization abbreviated "OYVEY".
  • Henpecked Husband: Kishon himself, at least sometimes.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Kishon's wife, "the best wife ever", was one. As is his daughter Renana.
  • Herr Doktor: Truth in Television, apparently most doctors in Israel were German Jews some decades ago, when he wrote this.
  • Israel / Judaism: Both come handy when you're reading Kishon. But if you don't know about them, you'll learn about both.
  • I Call It Vera: Kishon once had a car "Madeleine" and a black motor bike "Dr. Kaltenbrunner"
  • I Know You Know I Know: In a scene with a bagel salesman. The narrator thinks he wants to fool him into buying lower quality bagels, and goes through lengths with this trope, only to find out at the end that all the bagels always were fresh, and he suspected an innocent guy lying.
  • Japan Takes Over the World: Before their great crisis, of course.
  • Long List: When Kishon and his wife go to a supermarket the first time. They end up buying stuff for more than thousand pounds.
  • Lucky Translation: The German translation by Friedrich Torberg is said to be better than the original. After Torberg's death, Kishon did the German translations himself.
  • Man Child: He said that it's typical of our time that children act more like grown-ups, but adults are more childish than before.
  • Misery Poker: In one story.
  • Mistaken for Exhibit: In his stories about modern art.
  • Motor Mouth: Shulamith Ploni, a woman who encountered him as a witness for her wedding. He screwed it up.
    • Also, some street salesmen.
  • Never Lend to a Friend
  • A Nice Jewish Index: Almost all tropes from the list.
  • No Matter How Much I Beg: One politician lets his wife do this, to avoid him going to an interview which would probably uncover his corruption, but he's starving for the publicity and can't resist.
  • Once For Yes, Twice For No: Kishon's buddy Jossele / Erwinke once invents a code like this, when his boss forbids making private calls during the work: He and his co-worker will let the phone ring X times without taking the call. 43 times means "have you seen the latest Woody Allen flick already?" 46 times means "I did, but it wasn't that special", and so on.
  • Ouija Board: He once met some people too interested in the occult. Since nothing happened when he joined the session, he gave the glass a little push by himself. The "spirit" they contacted introduced himself as "MR 4 K?LLL", which the head spiritist interpreted as a spy's code name. Later, they contacted Aaron (Moses' brother) and asked him for his favorite Jews. Answer: "David... Judah Maccabee... Ben Gurion... Ephraim Kishon..." But is it his fault that Aaron likes reading good satires?
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: As he wrote, due to the fact that a state Israel didn't exist for 2000 years, they have the first anything in Israel for 2000 years. The first driving school, the first broom factory, and he himself wrote the first collection of humorist short stories for 2000 years.
  • Panicky Expectant Father: Once wrote a short play about three of them (all named Kohn), and confessed having been this himself.
  • Politeness Judo: In Britain, going as far that people will rather kill each other than going through a door first.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In The Fox in the Chicken Coop. The Yes-Man finally snaps and calls the politician out on his incompetence, how he still doesn't leave politics to make room for someone else, and the stupid joke he always tells.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Several artisans - one plumber, one painter and the most Egregious example would be a carpenter who once promised to make him a table in a few weeks, and delivered after years.
  • Sad Clown: Kishon uses the Pagliaccio joke in a different context. The joke starts the same way, but at the end the patient says instead: "Doctor, I've been at the circus, I've seen Pagliaccio. He wasn't funny at all. He was the unfunniest clown I've ever seen." The doctor breaks down: "But mister... I'm Pagliaccio!"
  • Scary Black Man: One of them wants to mug him when he's in NYC. Kishon manages to confuse him by speaking Hebrew and acting clueless about the mugger's intention. When he tells his relative how he was not-mugged and what he did she is shocked.
  • Short Story: His favorite, although he also wrote some big novels.
  • The Slacker: His friend Jossele / Erwinke. Correctly speaking, a Beatnik.
  • Snowball Lie: At the beginning of one story, Kishon and wife just want to escape from a boring party. But the host of the party is very helpful and offers to escort them to the place where Kishon supposedly has Serious Business to do. At the end, he ends up owning 30% of a new factory for washing machines. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: They do, but the young social worker Eva is clearly overstrained caring for Yemenite refugee Saadya Shabatai, his big family and his antics, and at the end, he ends up comforting and consulting her.
  • Tactful Translation: He once did this for a fight between one of his Hungarian relatives and a shopkeeper. He did it so well that they made peace. At the end, he thought he should try the same thing with the USA and the Soviet Union.
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: A woman named Bertha mistook him for the guy who made the drawings her dead husband liked so much, in the weekly newspaper he read. Kishon wrote for a daily, non-illustrated newspaper. That is, in the story. It tends to overlap.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Parodied in his novel "Mein Kamm", about a mad dictator who starts to hunt bald people. Does that remind you of someone?
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Political?: Kishon was a big Israeli patriot (not surprising, if you know about his past) and also wrote many political satires, which aren't that well known outside of Israel.
  • Women Drivers: Kishon's wife.
  • Write What You Know: Kishon's family very often appears in his stories.
  • You Can Say That Again: "Oy."

Notes

  1. Italian for "five hundred"
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