The good humor man

After three years in Jerusalem, David Kilimnick takes his top comedians and open mic nights to Tel Aviv to give them a whirl at the Carousel Theater.

Kilimnick 311 (photo credit: Dana Dekel)
Kilimnick 311
(photo credit: Dana Dekel)
Five years ago, the new immigrant and comedian David Kilimnick could be regularly seen at the OU Israel Center performing one-man acts with titles like “The Aliyah Monologues” and “Find Me a Wife.” But nowadays, Kilimnick is often behind the bar at his club pouring drinks with one hand and fiddling with a karaoke machine with the other.
That’s because comedy went from a passion and part-time job to an all-engrossing business for Kilimnick when he opened the first comedy club in Jerusalem, the Off The Wall Comedy Basement. Three years later, he is hoping to spread the jokes to Tel Aviv.
Beginning this week, Kilimnick will be hosting monthly shows at the Carousel Theater in Tel Aviv with top performers from his comedy club in Jerusalem.
“It’s going to be the Tel Aviv branch of Off the Wall Comedy. We will probably get it going weekly at some point,” says Kilimnick about the upcoming shows that will include both headliners and open mic nights.
“Every time I go to Tel Aviv,” he deadpans, “there is always an Israeli coming up to me saying, ‘Tel Aviv is New York.’ My response is ‘I’ve been to New York, it’s very different. In New York you can find kosher food.’” Kilimnick says that besides the language, the style of comedy will also be different from other Tel Aviv shows because it was uniquely developed in Jerusalem.
“Let’s stop with the Seinfeld-type observational comedy.
We are the holy city, let’s create the comedy of heart, the comedy of emeth (truth),” says Kilimnick about the concept behind his own comedy.
If his acts were broken down to three basic themes, they would be single life, religiosity and life in Israel as an immigrant.
“I moved to Israel to meet my naturally blonde Yemenite girl,” says Kilimnick in his show entitled “Find Me a Wife.” Later on in the act he continues, “I live in the Katamon area, where the single people in Jerusalem go to cry.”
Kilimnick says that these themes are supposed to represent real issues in his life and that he is hoping to bring absurdities to the community’s attention through his comedy.
“A single religious person’s voice in the Jewish community cannot be heard because we are wrong, we shouldn’t be, there is no place for us. I was at a Saw You at Sinai event [a religious dating website] and I felt like ‘This isn’t right,’” says the 33-year-old comedian about his inspiration behind the “Find Me a Wife” show.
Despite his anguish, if you ask Kilimnick, he’ll tell you that he is “the most eligible bachelor of Jerusalem.”
“Print that, man,” says Kilimnick with a mischievous smile.
Other shows by Kilimnick include the “Second Aliyah Monologues,” which is a more experienced version of the first “Aliyah Monologues” with which he started his comedy career in Israel, and the “Frum from Birth – The Religious Manifesto” show.
THE AMERICAN-BORN Kilimnick also performs in Hebrew during the weekly Hebrew comedy shows at Off the Wall. He started performing his act for native-born Israelis a year after making aliya. He says they enjoy his very different perspective on being in Israel.
“If this was a conversation, we would never be having it. It would have ended when you heard my accent,” he says with his strong American accent to the Hebrewspeaking audiences.
Kilimnick opened the Off The Wall comedy club three years ago to create a center for Jerusalem comedy at the top of the busy Ben-Yehuda Street. There are currently 25 English-speaking comedians and 20 other performers at the Hebrew shows.
“Give it up for your headliner and bartender,” is a usual line at Off The Wall, where Kilimnick will often tend bar for most of the show, and then put on a jacket to go up as the final comedian.
In addition to comedy, there are also open music nights, as well as occasional poetry competitions. However, one of the big draws of the club is the nightly karaoke. On the night of women-only karaoke, popular among girls from abroad studying in seminary, the small club is packed with 40 to 50 women waiting for their turn to sing along with the tunes of Britney Spears or Lady Gaga.
“It took us a while to accept karaoke, but it is a big thing,” says Kilimnick while tending bar around midnight for the late-night patrons taking turns on the karaoke stage.
Kilimnick can be found at the club five to six nights a week, sometimes appearing to be no more than the club bartender during a musical performance. But in truth, his stand-up work at the club is sustaining the unique home of Jerusalem comedy.