Life is a comedy for this British-Israeli

"Israel makes me smile, I can get used to the sunshine."

Diana Cass (photo credit: Courtesy)
Diana Cass
(photo credit: Courtesy)
‘I like to lighten up my life, so I hope that when I do comedy, it lightens up other peoples’ lives as well,” muses Diana Cass, a British comedian living in Israel.
Cass moved to Israel in 1994, when she was 28. She was studying marketing at the time but had taken an acting class, which piqued her interest. While still in London, Cass was involved with a variety club, as well as a children’s hospital radio station to lift patients’ spirits during their stay.
“I fell in love with somebody when I was on holiday in Israel, so that was also a push for coming here,” she says of her aliya. “Everyone is your friend here, but on the other hand you have to get used to helping yourself. You have to get used to the food, the culture, the weather."
“Israel makes me smile. I can get used to the sunshine. My friends and family who are in London are missing out, everyone should make aliya.”
Back in 1994 and post-breakup, on a night out with her friends, she went to a Tel Aviv nightclub that was hosting a comedy night; it was then she became inspired to do a comedy routine of her own. She began her comedy career doing stand-up for the English-speaking comedy scene, and after a while began performing routines in Hebrew in Tel Aviv.
When Cass came to Israel, she connected with the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel and did a few shows for their community. She then found an agent and then started auditioning. The Ben-Gurion Affair, a TV movie directed by Assaf Harel, was her first Israeli part. Since then, she’s done stand-up and advertisements, and participated in other small films. She gets recognized often on the streets of Tel Aviv and Netanya, where she performs the most.
When asked by In Jerusalem what inspires her the most, Cass replies, “Just being a British woman living here. Comedy is really great, and it’s important to have a funny side of life, especially in this country. Israel has a lot of things going on and the political situation isn’t so good. There’s a lot of tragedy around but there are nice things in life and I want everyone to remember that."
“I have friends in the music industry, too. People inspire me a lot because music, acting and comedy make lots of people happy. One of my cousins was in the Harry Potter movie series, so acting is a little bit in the family as well.”
Cass also mentions how much more of a chance people in Israel have of “making it big,” compared to England. “In Israel, it’s an outdoor life, but people appreciate entertainment and talent of all kinds. Not just in comedy, but in television too, people write more and more parts in English here.”
One night before performing one of her Hebrew stand-up routines, the owner of the venue requested that she do it in English instead, giving her a few minutes to translate the piece. “I was going to do it in Hebrew, but then the owner said ‘No, do it in English!’ so I translated all of it back to English. I had to make snap decisions and it was really fun to be put on the spot like that,” Cass recounts.
“There are a few Americans who draw from their aliya experiences, but I don’t touch on that too much. Comedian Benji Lovitt is extremely good at that. Although, when I do talk about Israeli culture from my perspective, I mainly joke about all the things that foreigners have to get used to.”
“We have to get used to the dynamic between men and women, how one is treated in a restaurant, how we tell Israeli guys to hold the door for us, the kosher practices, the Ashkenazi and Sephardi dynamics, gefilte fish, jachnun, how I’ve been totally spoiled, food-wise,” she continues.
“I also talk about how in the supermarket, like waiting in line, one has to get used to the dynamic there. It’s much less orderly. Like if I were to have an elderly mom waiting outside everyone in line would be like, ‘Whatever!’ But if I were to have a hair appointment, everyone in line would start pushing me to the front, saying, ‘Let this girl through, she has a place to be!’” What’s next? “I’m working to improve my standup shows, and also working on writing a comedy about life and relationships. I would really love to have a part in a TV comedy. This morning I was talking to a producer about appearing on his show or a series.
“Also, there’s a few of us who work together, so if anyone has a private function, and they want a comedy interlude, we’re happy to do that too,” adds Cass.