What happened to the Rapping Rabbi Who Fooled Simon Cowell on ‘BGT’?
After years of pulling off crazy public pranks in front of huge audiences, Simon Brodkin went searching for his next target. He decided that the Britain’s Got Talent stage was the perfect place. He feels like the show is “contrived” and “manipulative” and wanted to prove a point by challenging judge Simon Cowell.
Brodkin typically performs his stunts dressed as his alter ego, Lee Nelson. He most famously jumped on the stage at a Kanye West concert in 2015, and interrupted a press conference of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter that same year. Brodkin came up with a formula to try and prank the BGT judges in 2016. He filmed the whole experience for a documentary that aired in 2017.
Simon Brodkin Pulls Off the Rapping Rabbi Prank on ‘BGT’
Brodkin explained in the documentary that he feels like BGT contestants don’t actually need to have talent to get on the show. He saw that most acts that go through to the next round have a sob story. Brodkin knew that he had to make his act unexpected and be patriotic. His mission was to get into the BGT auditions and see how long he could last.
Brodkin decided to do a rapping act dressed as an Orthodox Jew named Steven Goldblatt, AKA The Rapping Rabbi. He got his story down pat about how he likes to listen in secret to Eminem and Dr. Dre. Brodkin auditioned for the producers as Steven, and got a call 10 days later to send them a video of another rap. He wrote a second rap about loving Britain and heard back from the producers two weeks after.
He was asked to fill out a questionnaire where he created his own sob story about his mom passing away and caring for his father. A few days later, he was invited to audition in front of the judges. He decided to perform his song about Britain for his big audition. Simon Cowell said that it could be the new National Anthem.
Amanda Holden called the performance “brilliant.” Alesha Dixon loved that the song made references to all of the judges. David Walliams pretty much proved Brodkin’s whole point when he called the act “unexpected.” Steven got four “yes” votes from the judges. He was wrapping up his final interview of the day when one of the executive producers figured out his real identity. After that, his BGT audition was basically null and void. His stunt even made the newspapers.
What Has He Been Up to Since His Audition?
In 2017, Brodkin interrupted Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech at a press conference. He handed her a P45 form and told her that Boris Johnson asked him to deliver it. After going viral with his Lee Nelson persona, Brodkin decided to take a bit of a step back from the character.
“I’d wanted to do stand-up as myself for a while but never had the time with back-to-back Lee tours,” he said in 2019. “There’s things I can say and areas that I can get into that I just couldn’t as Lee. And his tracksuit no longer fitted.”
He has since continued his career as a standup comedian. Brodkin debuted a brand-new sold out standup show in August 2019 in Edinburgh. He also revealed that he would be going on his first ever stand-up tour as himself around the U.K. In March 2020, Brodkin announced that his tour had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He contracted the virus that same month and has since made a full recovery.
“I’m excited, it feels liberating. Like the comedy equivalent of coming out,” he said about performing as himself. “Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved playing Lee – the things you can get away with as a character that might have got me knocked out as myself. But I’m now having a lot of fun as myself. Still a clown, just a different one.”
Brodkin posted on Instagram that his new Troublemaker tour is set to kick off this fall. He continues to upload skits and comedy videos over on his YouTube channel. In the midst of the pandemic, Brodkin gathered 30 of his stand-up comedian friends over Zoom to record a song for the NHS. The song was just released and Brodkin is encouraging his followers to download, donate, and share it.