I can't tell you how many times I've met up with a friend for coffee here in Israel where we joke back and forth for hours, laughing hysterically, as we recount the inside jokes and shared trials and tribulations that we are experiencing currently or have experienced while living abroad in Israel. The common bond formed as expats living in a foreign country is a unique one and strong one that is arguably just as crucial to one's survival abroad as it is to the fulfillment of one's need for a good dosage of humor.
We can go on and on about so much....every topic under the sun from the hovering religious folk behind you in line who adamantly pressure you to move forward (when it's not even yet your turn) or the endless and jaw-dropping run-around to get seemingly simple things like done, like setting up a doctor's appointment, paying for something at the post office or applying for any kind of license at all (good luck with all of the above...). Then of course there's your basic Hebrew issues (are these people fighting or just talking loudly at one another?! we're still trying to figure this one out...). And then there's the complete lack of anything that would make any sense at all, such as, I don't know.... maybe, a place on the bill to add a tip, or perhaps bus schedules being posted to a bus stop, or just a suggestion, government offices being open at hours beyond 8-12. And boy oh boy do we westerners miss good ole' customer service with a smile. I'm sorry you're having a bad day, Mr. Salesman or Ms. Coffee Brewer, but please don't take it out on me. And this is just the start of the list. Those of you living here will perhaps get a smile just by reading this paragraph.
However, I'm no professional when it comes to comedy. Though I like to think I have my own individual sense of humor, I'm no stand-up comic. It's nothing compared to the local comedian Mr. David Kilimnick who I have experienced as being quite the talk around town. An American-born comedian who moved to Israel by way of Aliyah has made his mark on the comedy scene in not only Jerusalem, but also, throughout all of Israel.
Comedy was sort of nonexistent in previous years in the holy land; however, through the help of "Israel's Father of Anglo Comedy" this funnyman has established the reputed and wildly successful Off The Wall Comedy Basement headquartered right here in the heart of Jerusalem. This comedy shop showcases not only a repertoire of acclaimed, local comedians from right here in Jerusalem and throughout all of Israel but also, Off The Wall Comedy even features guest appearances from well-known comedians from abroad during their visits to Israel. People in Israel are really learning how to laugh and they enjoy showing up again and again at this popular comedy spot for a healthy dosage of humor.
In particular, the man I keep hearing about again and again is Mr. David Kilimnick himself, to whom the comedy spot owes its existence. Reportedly, David offers hilarious repertoires of his candid observations about life in Israel. Anybody who can relate to the frustrations of a turbulent life in Israel will find humor and sheer laughter in his clever monologues. To quote from Off The Wall Comedy's website (click here to see site): "Kilimnick's material covers the rocky transition from his 'New York Cocoon' to his new life as an 'Oleh Chadash' or Israeli newcomer. Still single, Kilimnick touches on his religious upbringing, his father a rabbi, the injustices of Jewish grammar school and Jewish summer camp, and the looks he gets from his Jewish mother because he isn't married yet. Meanwhile, Kilimnick's universal humor takes you on a tour of funny through the Holy Land."
Possibly Kilimnick's most successful bout is his thoroughly popular The Aliyah Monologues (1 & 2) which recounts the most frustrating aspects of a new immigrant's life in Israel. Everyone I know who has seen it says that it's a "must-see", leaving you wanting more. If you like what you hear in The Aliyah Monologues, fear not, for you can still come back for much, much more to whet your laughter palette. Kilimnick also has other popular routines including the following:
- Tour of Funny through the Holy Land
- Find Me a Wife
- Frum From Birth: Religious Manifesto
- Uncle "D": How My Family Made Me
- America: Where is it?
- Jerusalem Comedy Show: What Your Tour Guide Didn't Tell You
- Biblical Man: Let's Cross the River Already
To see a full schedule of upcoming shows at Off The Wall Comedy, please following this link here. The comedy basement is located smack dab in the center of town right next to the Mashbir shopping center at 34 Ben Yehuda Street. Entrance fees will cost you 50nis for a ticket and free drink on the house or 40nis for students, soldiers and seniors. I'm hoping us ulpan students will qualify because my Aliyah stipends aren't really doing the trick. For more details, and a good laugh, find more information at Off The Wall Comedy's website here.