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|Birth name||Ivor Joseph Dembina|
14 April 1951|
|Medium||Stand up, Writer, Comedy club curator|
|Subject(s)||Jewish culture, Current events, Sex, Human interaction, Racism|
Joan Mary Badcock (m. 1979; div. 1980)|
Judith Hilda Dimant (m. 1994; div. 1996)
|Children||Anja Mary, Luis George|
Ivor Joseph Dembina (born 14 April 1951) is a British stand-up comedian and writer in the alternative tradition from London.
Dembina attributed his early "reputation for generally doing some decent gigs" to having "the brains to make sure there is a microphone facing the right way."
In 1987, together with club promoter, Addison Cresswell, he founded the Comedy Boom venue at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the basement of the Abercraig Lounge. It was the Edinburgh Festival Fringe's first venue that exclusively hosted stand-up comedy, and ran for five years.
After that, his career veered towards performance. He created and compèred a show called Comic Abuse at Pleasance Courtyard in the late 80s, which became a successful fixture and introduced acts such as Jo Brand and Jack Dee.
Dembina runs the Hampstead Comedy Club in North London, which he founded in 1994. He is cited as an early influence by Stewart Lee. He wrote for the first season of the Omid Djalili Show on BBC1. He appeared in the first season of Eye Spy as 'Jewish Dad' on Channel 4. He was the first stand-up comedian to perform a solo comedy show at the UK Houses of Parliament.
Dembina's comedy focuses on his Jewish background and his political outlook. He toured his show about the Israel-Palestine conflict, 'This is Not a Subject For Comedy', in Israel and on the West Bank. In 1998 he wrote and performed a show entitled SadoJudaism in which he talked about the worlds of fetishism and prostitution through Jewish eyes.
Dembina has attracted attention for his outspoken anti-Zionist and socialist views.
In 2004, while on his way to perform stand-up comedy in Israel and the West Bank, Ivor was detained for several hours by Israeli police at Ben Gurion Airport after his name reportedly turned up on a list of "known radicals".
In 2008, Dembina organised a comedy event called "60 Years: What A State" on Israel's independence day, Yom Ha'atzmaut. Featuring Jeremy Hardy, Mark Steel, Reginald D Hunter and Shazia Mirza, it was on the same evening a gala event organised by the Zionist Federation at the Wembley Arena celebrated 60 years of the Israeli state. Ivor branded the gala's headliner, American comedian Jackie Mason, a "bad Jewish joke", citing Mason's support for Israel and the fact that comedian Ray Hanania, of Palestinian descent, had been dropped from supporting Mason on tour in 2002. Ivor said: "Never mind Israel not wanting to share Jerusalem with Palestinians, he won't even share a stage with one."
In 2011, Dembina threatened legal action and called for an investigation after a protester interrupted his Edinburgh Fringe preview show at a Jewish community centre in Golders Green, accusing him of performing a "tame version for a Jewish audience" and demanding that he reveal his anti-Israel views. Other activists picketed outside and handed out flyers. Ivor said afterwards: "In 25 years in Jewish comedy, during which I have performed both in Britain and abroad—including in Israel—this is the first time someone has attended a performance of mine with the apparent intention of sabotaging it."
In late 2013 and early 2014, Dembina joined other artists and writers including Nigel Kennedy, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and Mark Steel at St James's Church, Piccadilly for Bethlehem Unwrapped, a festival during the Christmas season that drew attention to the Israeli West Bank barrier.
In 2014, Dembina caused consternation among sections of the Jewish community for organising a benefit show for the people of the Gaza Strip with Daniel Kitson, Josie Long and fellow Jewish comic Andy Zaltzman.
Also in 2014, he angered some other Jewish comedians by banning them from his from his club because they publicly endorsed and received payment from an organisation that he claimed was racist, the Jewish National Fund.
In 2015, Dembina also attracted the interest of the political community for his willingness to use sensitive subjects such as the Holocaust, Israel and Jewish stereotypes in his material.
Dembina is a Labour Party member of the Vauxhall Constituency Labour Party. In April 2016, he was one of 82 Jewish members and supporters of the Labour Party and of Jeremy Corbyn's leadership who wrote an open letter to The Guardian stating that they "do not accept that antisemitism is 'rife' in the Labour party" and that "these accusations are part of a wider campaign against the Labour leadership, and they have been timed particularly to do damage to the Labour party and its prospects in elections in the coming week."
Notable performances and tours
The Cochrane Theatre
Ivor toured Israel and the West Bank with his show This is Not a Subject for Comedy in 2003.
UK Houses of Parliament
|Comic Abuse||Compere Ivor Dembina with Jack Dee, Jo Brand, Mark Thomas, Phil Cornwall, Felix Dexter, Dave Cohen, James Macabre, Patrick Marber and Jim Tavare||1988–1993||The Pleasance|
|Stand Up Jewish Comedy||solo show||1994||The Pleasance|
|Arab and the Jew||Omid Djalili||1998||The Pleasance|
|Ivor Dembina: Jewish Comedy – Free at Last||solo show||2007||Linsay's Basement|
|This is Not a Subject for Comedy||solo show||2008||Espionage|
|Laughing Horse Free Comedy Selection||Compere Ivor Dembina with a mixed bill||2008||Espionage|
|Free Jewish Comedy||solo show||2011||The Counting House|
|Ivor's Other Show||solo show||2011||The Counting House|
|Old Jewish Jokes||solo show||2012||Bar 50|
|Old Jewish Jokes||solo show||2013||Bar 50|
|Zapp & Dembina – Comedy After Lunch||Andy Zapp and guests||2013||Cowgatehead|
|Free Gaza!||Daniel Kitson, Josie Long and Andy Zaltzman||2014||The Gilded Balloon|
|Old Jewish Jokes||solo show||2014||The Gilded Balloon|
|Zapp & Dembina||Andy Zapp and guests||2014||Cowgatehead|
|New Jewish Jokes||solo show||2015||The Stand Comedy Club|
Ivor has contributed to many comedy books and been featured in several others.
|Because I Tell a Joke or Two: Comedy, Politics and Social Difference||Stephen Wagg||2004||Routledge||ISBN 978-1134794331|
|Getting the Joke: The Art of Stand-up Comedy||Oliver Double||2005||A&C Black||ISBN 978-0413774767|
|Funny You Should Say That: A Compendium of Jokes, Quips and Quotations from Cicero to the Simpsons||Andrew Martin||2006||Penguin||ISBN 978-0140515091|
|Dim Wit: The Funniest, Stupidest Things Ever Said||Rosemarie Jarski||2008||Random House||ISBN 978-1407024684|
|How to Be Averagely Successful at Comedy||Dave Cohen||2013||Acorn Independent Press||ISBN 978-1909121614|
|Performing Live Comedy||Chris Ritchie||2013||A&C Black||ISBN 978-1408146439|
|Words from the Wise: Over 6,000 of the Smartest Things Ever Said||Rosemarie Jarski||2013||Skyhorse Publishing, Inc||ISBN 978-1628732733|
Since 1985, Ivor has founded and run several comedy clubs. The Hampstead Comedy Club is the only one still operating.[when?]
- Founded the Red Rose Comedy Club in Finsbury Park, London in 1985.
- Founded the Comedy Boom with club promoter, Addison Cresswell in Edinburgh in 1987. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe's first venue for Stand-Up Comedy.
- Founded the Hampstead Comedy Club in 1994. It was originally held at the Washington Arms in Belsize Park, London. It currently resides at the Camden Head in Camden Town, London.
- Founded the Brixton Comedy Club in the Hobgoblin, Brixton, London in 1999.
The Skinny magazine commented that there is something "modest and eternal" about him.
- "Ivor Dembina review". The Guardian Newspaper.
- Venables, Ben (6 June 2017). "How Comedy Captured the Edinburgh Fringe: Part 3". The Skinny. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
- "Comedian Ivor Dembina on how money and TV altered British alternative comedy". John Fleming's Blog.
- Lee, Stewart (2010). How I escaped my certain fate : the life and deaths of a stand-up comedian. London: Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0-571-25480-4.
- "The Omid Djalili Show Cast and Crew". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- "Eye Spy Cast and Crew". Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
- "Ivor Dembina Parliament Stand-Up". The Guardian Newspaper.
- "Observations: A comic Strip in Westminster". The Independent Newspaper. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- "Old Jewish Jokes 2014 review". The Scotsman Newspaper.
- "A perfect Subject for Comedy". Hanitzotz Publishing House.
- "Beats me what they see in sado- masochism". The Scotsman Newspaper.
- "Comic detained in Israel". Chortle.
- "Mason rapped for Zionist gigl". Chortle.
- "Demonstrators picket comic's Ivy House performance". Jewish Chronicle Newspaper.
- "Bethlehem Unwrapped". PSC.
- "FREE GAZA!". Gilded Balloon Edinburgh Fringe Website.
- "JNF Boycott". Jewish Chronicle Newspaper.
- "Racist Charity blacklisted". The Independent Newspaper.
- "Is the JNF Racist?". The Jewish News.
- "Jewish Community Divided". Beyond the Joke blog.
- "The JNF Hit Back". Jewish Chronicle Newspaper.
- "Cultural Boycott of Israel". The Guardian Newspaper.
- "Artists For Palestine".
- "Jewish Jokes Not Antisemetic". The Independent Newspaper.
- "A statement from Jewish Labour members on the current attacks on Jeremy Corbyn". Jewish Voice for Labour. 26 March 2018. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- "Labour, antisemitism and where Jeremy Corbyn goes from here". The Guardian. 29 April 2016. Retrieved 1 June 2018.
- "Jewish Socialist Group". Jewish Socialist Group.
- "Comedian Ivor Dembina". Chortle Comedy Website. Retrieved 31 August 2014.
- "Ivor Dembina shows". University of Glasgow Scottish Theatre Archive.
- "Red Rose Club". Seven Sisters Stories. Retrieved 2014-11-26.
- "How To Promote a Fringe Show". How To Promote a Fringe Show.
- "Hampstead Comedy Club". Hamptead Comedy Club.
- "Brixton Comedy Club". Brixton Comedy Club.