Noam Shuster is a comedian whom many Israelis find hard to digest. She grew up in the binational community of Neve Shalom, speaks Arabic and Hebrew as her mother tongues, and as opposed to many other comedians, she has never hesitated to express her political opinions - which many would catalogue as far left - loud and clear.
These traits, which have made her a familiar figure among certain audiences in Israel, also brought her to Harvard University. In 2019, she went to the Harvard Divinity School for a fellowship under the Religion, Conflict, and Peace Initiative, where she was supposed to develop her one-woman show, and then to break out in a series of performances at nightclubs in major U.S. cities. Thus begins the short film about her, “Reckoning with Laughter,” which is being aired on Al-Jazeera.
But like every story that began in 2020, the anticipation and excitement that were supposed to accompany Schuster’s breakout were replaced by the reality of the coronavirus. When the pandemic erupted she realized that the logical thing to do was to return home.
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Her story becomes even more dramatic: She contracts the virus, is hospitalized and then sent to a Jerusalem coronavirus hostel. There she understands that it will take a long time before she can fulfill her utopian End of Days vision, but she returns to reality with even stronger convictions.
The film about Shuster is 25 minutes long, and a significant part of its importance lies in the fact that it was produced by the Qatari broadcasting network. The plan is to turn it into a full length TV series or feature film entitled 'Coexistence, My Ass!'. Shuster is essentially a political animal, and what goes down easily at first when packaged in humor ends up as a harsh message hurled in your face. It’s hard to argue with her messages, and in any case it’s interesting to hear them.