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Danny Dalah Combats Antisemitism With Comedy

“Comedy became an outlet to deal with a lot of frustrations in my day-to-day life and to also speak out against nonsense occurring in our society."
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February 10, 2022
Photo courtesy of Danny Dalah

We can fight back against antisemitism by speaking out on Twitter. We can build interfaith relationships with different communities, as well as educate non-Jews about the Holocaust in school. We can also combat it with comedy.

That’s what comedian Danny Dalah is doing with his new tune, “Song for the Anti-Semite.” From Dalah’s debut album “Mr. Self-Sabotage”  (out February 14), the song takes Jewish stereotypes and turns them on their head. In it, he sings, “You think that we’re white, but your country club said no? You think we run Hollywood, but I’m unemployed! You think we killed Jesus, but Jesus was the biggest Jew! Your discrimination’s got a lot of plot holes. Maybe you should hire Spielberg to fix that. Oh right?”

Dalah said that melodically, “Song for the Anti-Semite” is inspired by Mizrahi music like Eyal Golan and similar artists. Years ago, his Israeli father brought back from Israel a Greek bouzouki, an instrument in of the long-necked lute family, and an Egyptian goblet drum. Dalah started experimenting with both instruments, using them and a melodica in the song.

“[It] almost sounds like a mix of klezmer and Mizrahi music,” he said. “In a time with such hatred on the rise, I don’t believe in hiding our identity or being ashamed of who we are. Embracing these non-mainstream musical instruments in a comedy song is another way to affirm my Jewish identity.”

Photo courtesy of Danny Dalah

The comedian was born and raised in Los Angeles in a Conservative Jewish home, where his family kept kosher, did Shabbat dinner and celebrated the holidays. He embraced comedy early on, making a stop motion movie of his “Star Wars” action figures escaping his room in a “Toy Story”-like fashion when he was in sixth grade. 

“An appreciation of comedy has always been present in my life,” he said. 

Growing up, Dalah would listen to Golan, along with Teapacks (who represented in Israel in 2007’s Eurovision competition) and the Beatles, and learned how to play flamenco guitar.

“It was only a matter of time before I combined music and comedy, so I started occasionally improvising these silly little jingles on the guitar,” he said. 

After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts with a minor in comedy, Dalah started doing stand-up at The Comedy Store, The Ice House and the Upright Citizens Brigade. 

“Comedy became an outlet to deal with a lot of frustrations in my day-to-day life and to also speak out against nonsense occurring in our society,” he said. 

One of the frustrations Dalah dealt with is antisemitism; he’s experienced it several times. When he was in the Jewish fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu at USC, he was participating in a charity sporting event when one member of the opposing team yelled “filty k*kes” at Dalah and his teammates. 

“[That] was the first time I had ever heard that word, and it was truly shocking to experience antisemitism at home in Los Angeles, which oftentimes can feel like a safe bubble,” he said.

In a second incident at USC, a vendor was selling merchandise with swastikas on it. A group of Dalah’s friends tried to convince the vendor to stop selling it, but he refused. 

And when Dalah was traveling abroad in Barcelona, he said a seemingly nice woman helped him and his friends find a hotel when every hotel in the city was booked up. 

“At the end, she asked where we were coming from, and we responded ‘Tel Aviv.’ Her smile dropped and she said, ‘Why would you go there? There are a lot of Jews there.’ It was truly a bizarre incident, because someone who was so nice and helped us was antisemitic the whole time.”

“I wanted to use comedy to talk about a deeper issue and fight back at some bigots.” – Danny Dalah

Still, Dalah doesn’t let it get him down. Instead, he’s taking a stance in his own way. “I wanted to use comedy to talk about a deeper issue and fight back at some bigots,” he said. 

Ultimately, Dalah hopes he can make an impact. His dream is to write for Saturday Night Live or “Rick and Morty” and continuing to do what he loves. 

“I like to make people laugh because life can be really difficult, and laughing at least makes all of our problems slightly easier to deal with,” he said. “While I can’t perform rocket science, I can make someone laugh, so that’s my attempt to help out.”

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