My plan for this night is to attend the StorySlam: Adventures in Food event while I’m here in Tel Aviv. I figure this has to be in a restaurant or something. But it’s not. It is in a location in what starts to feel like a no-man’s land as I am entering an industrial area. I am as directionally challenged as my dyslexic-like inability to spell, just to give a bit of context.)
I manage to navigate my way there on foot without too many problems but still, I feel so unsure of where I am going. Only once I go the wrong way and have to back track. But it still takes me a long time to get there.
The venue, as it turns out is a beer distillery called “The Dancing Camel” Approaching the door I see a sign, “Storyslam, yes you found it, come on in.” At least I’m not the only one. Apparently they changed locations as the last month they had over 100 people. It’s the only show of this kind here in English.
Just around the bar is a friendly woman with short brown hair sitting on a stool. “Are you here for the storyslam?” It turns out she has family in Toronto. When I give her my card for my (and Erin Rodgers) show “Tales of…. “ She says, “Oh Bloor Street, great location”. Her name is Xoli, (and I’m sure to fuck this one up. You know me and names.)
I’m asked if I wanted to tell a story. I wasn’t expecting this. The theme is food. Do I tell a story or not? If I don’t I’ll be pissed off at myself afterward. I put my name down on a piece of paper and throw it in a bucket.
Soon all the organizers know there is a guy here from Toronto with a storytelling show. I feel special, yet pressured now. I’d better be fucking good after the buzz that is happening now.
The host for the evening who produces the show has a TV show on a local Israeli station about restaurants. He says it’s similar to what English TV does, which I’m not sure what that is. He is super nice.
Despite my getting lost I’m still really early. Outside I’m chatting with ex-pats from all over. I feel a sense of camaraderie with the ex-pats and the performing community. One Persian-American woman from LA, super outgoing, tells me she is friends with one of the guys on the reality show “The Shahs of Sunset.” She pulls out her phone and shows me a photo. I’m now in love with her!
A couple of other people introduce themselves just out of the blue. How un-Toronto. Compare and contrast.
The original woman I met and her husband own a very well known café called XoHo, the name based on putting letters from both of their names together. I now have multiple invitiations from them and others who work there to come down and visit.
Prior to the show, they have a musical act playing, bluegrass kind of blues, complete with harmonica and violin. They are amazing, and a bit hipster looking. Voilà, I finally found some. I knew they were here somewhere. But hipster-Jew, one with a tzitzit, attached to his guitar belt (this is the fringe that is found on a prayer shawl).
Suddenly I realize these are the guys I had been listening to on YouTube performing “The Roommate Song” at a different venue. Wow, I’m amazed at how this is coming together.
Sitting on a stool I realize that there is an orthodox Jew sitting behind me complete in a black hat. “OL this should be interesting” as I project all my pre-judgments on him.
It turns out he is Yisrael Campbell, the very one who is a successful comic, actor and has the acclaimed one-man show called “Circumsize Me” that played in Toronto. More and more I’m realizing I’m participating in something really special
When it comes to Storytelling show time, I know what story I will tell. It is about the time I made pot brownies and had to go to the hospital with a cold-induced asthma attack and ate the brownies.
When it comes to loto (Editors’s note: I have no idea what this is. Lotto maybe?) spots, I either never get them, or I’m last when there is no longer an audience. The host picks a piece of paper and reads it, “Our first storyteller of the evening is Brian Finch.” “Fuck” is going through my head, as I’m nervous. This is the first time performing in a different country.
I tell my story, and I kill it. I don’t say that often. If I sucked, I’d say so.
After the show, all the producers tell me how much they enjoyed the story and how great that I was the first one up to start the show. Again, Wow! I was scared, and I get this wonderful warm reaction.
Now I’m invited to future musical events at this venue. I’ve met so many amazing and fun ex-pats.
It’s official. I have fallen in love with Tel Aviv.