Gavri Banai is a singer, actor, comedian, and one third of the legendary Pale Tracker (‘HaGashash HaHiver’) comedy trio. Hailing from a long line of prolific creatives that include his late siblings, Yossi and Ya’ackov Banai, and his children – Uri and Boaz, Gavri Banai grew up in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda neighbourhood. Banai spent his time in the military serving in the IDF’s legendary late 1950s musical group, The Nahal Band (aka Nachal Troupe). Banai, along with several of his bandmates, including Yisrael (Polly) Poliakov, Yehoram Gaon, Aliza Rosen and others, sang on countless Nahal hits including A Girl’s Weakness (‘hulsha shel bat’), and Scouts (‘sayarim’.) On completing his military service, he joined the musical group, The Roosters (‘hatarnegolim’), whose members were comprised of a variety of military troupe alumni, including Yisrael (Polly) Poliakov and Shaike Levi. Banai stayed with the band until they eventually split up and was part of two TV specials which yielded numerous hit songs that have since become staples of Israeli culture, including The Neighbourhood Song (‘shir hashchuna’), Has Anyone Ever Told you (‘haim amru lach pa’am’), Everything’s Golden (‘hakol zahav’), and many more.
Following the breakup of The Roosters, producer and agent Avraham Deshe (aka Pashanel) got three of the former bandmates – Poliakov, Banai, and Levi – together, who then went on to form a brand new entertainment trio – HaGashash HaHiver (‘the pale tracker’, a Hebrew pun on ‘the blind tracker’).
Within a short time, the trio became the most successful entertainment ensemble in Israeli history, whose name would become synonymous with Israeli humour and all things Israeli. Between 1964 – 1991, the trio appeared in ten original entertainment programmes which featured countless memorable sketches that have since entered the Israeli hall of entertainment fame: highlights of those sketches include The Garage, The Drafted Automobile, Cracker vs. Cracker, and Canteen in Tiberias; the hit songs No One’s Getting up (‘af echad lo kam’), What’s He Doing to Her (‘ma hu ose la’), Yael my Love (‘ahuvati yael’), The Telephone Song (‘shir hatelefon’), Hotties Hotties (‘yafot yafot’), Water for King David (‘maim ledavid hamelech’), and many more.
Highlights of the ensemble’s film credits as a trio include Moishe Air-Condition (Uri Zohar, 1966), Fortuna (Menahem Golan, 1966), Ervinka (Ephraim Kishon, 1967), Every Bastard a King (Uri Zohar, 1968), Take off (Uri Zohar, 1970), Halfon Hill Doesn’t Answer (Assi Dayan, 1976), The Hit (Assi Dayan, 1979), and House Committee Rivalry (Avi Cohen, 1986).
The trio’s many gifts to Israeli pop culture include a catalogue of timeless puns and colloquialisms that have since become deeply engrained in the local vernacular, including ‘Israblof’ (a portmanteau of Israel and the Hebrew word for ‘con’), ‘’hachupchik shel ha’kumkum’ (‘the kettle’s top bit thingy’), ‘ma sheva? Ma kama?’ (What do you mean, seven? What do you mean, how much?), ‘hevanta et ze, Baruch?’ (‘you got that, Baruch?’), and ‘cham be’tveriya’ (‘it’s hot in Tiberias.’) In the year 2000, Hagashash HaHiver trio were named the recipients of that year’s Israel’s Prize for their extraordinary contributions to society. That same year, the trio finally went their separate ways after 36 years of working together.
Following the trio’s breakup, Banai started presenting culinary programme, Food Road (‘derech haochel’), with renowned celebrity chef, Israel Aharoni. In 2013, he appeared in Avi Nesher’s film, The Wonders; then, in 2015, Banai and his two sons, Uri and Boaz, teamed up to appear in the stage show, These are my Banais (‘elu hem banai’, a Hebrew pun on ‘my sons’). In 2021, he appeared in the second series of Filmed (‘mezulamin’), starring the Ma Kashur (‘what’s that got to do with anything?’) comedy trio.


Hit Song

Directed by Assi Dayan, 1979
Rental English subs.

95 min.


Halfon Hill Doesn't Answer

Directed by Assi Dayan, 1976
גבעת חלפון אינה עונה
Rental English subs.

93 min.

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