Football brought comedian Ivor Dembina to Watford in his youth.
“I’d go every week as a kid to see the likes of Cliff Holton, Tommy Harmer and Pat Jennings,“ he says. “One of the first games I may have seen was when Watford got promoted to the Third Division. I remember the chant, ’Sting ’em Hornets’.
“I stopped going regularly when I was about 16 when we moved from Harrow to Hendon. I still look at the results but I haven’t attended a live game for some time, though I’m still an armchair follower. I also play five-a-side regularly and as far as England is concerned, I’m available if selected.“
So does he tell football jokes?
“I only know one. I went to the World Cup years ago and I only managed to get a ticket for one game – Germany versus Iran – it was the ultimate dilemma for a Jewish football fan.“
Ivor will be discussing an altogether different dilemma at Watford’s Trade Union Hall when he joins Watford Friends of Salfeet for a charity evening.
Ivor’s show This is NOT a Subject for Comedy details the Jewish comedian’s visits to the West Bank as a peace worker. His 60-minute ’story with jokes’ tells us how he was brought up in north London’s Jewish community but how his visits to Palestine forced him change his views about the Middle East conflict.
“The story arises out of my decision to go out there and have a look. As a Jewish person, the Middle East predicament was on my mind, and in 2002 a lot of bad things were going on. I went to Israel and the West Bank to get a feel for what the actual situation was.
“The show is not about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, although that forms a backdrop. It’s my story, about a person who finds his allegiance being held up for scrutiny. I found my allegiance to Jewishness in conflict with my allegiance to humanity as a whole.
“It’s not a polemic, but my own feelings about the situation come through. I learned a long time ago you can’t get people to change their minds by battering them over the head – you’ve got to tell your story and hope they can go along with it.“
After the show Ivor will lead off a Q&A about the issues involved and the challenges of using comedy to tackle serious subjects. Is there anything that should not be a subject for comedy in his view?
“I don’t think any subjects should be off limits, it’s the way you treat them that counts. It’s not possible to have demarcation as who would be the adjudicator. Would you refer it to the UN?
“I think the greatest thing about good comedy is it deals in the truth. If people are laughing at truthful jokes, you’re affecting them with comedy and you can make points.
“Truth makes me laugh, so I try to be as truthful as possible.“
This is Not a Subject for Comedy comes to the Trade Union Hall, Woodford Road, Watford on Thursday, April 26 at 7.30pm. Details: 07909 921237, www.watfordfriendsofsalfeet.org.uk