Let’s Meet Jewish Person of the Week- Yael Gavish Israeli Wonder
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Rehovot, Israel but always was obsessed with the big city- Tel-Aviv. I made my dream come true and moved to Tel-Aviv when I was 19.
Where did you go to school?
I wanted to study Architecture in Paris because I loved the city, but my French wasn’t good enough so I started to study architecture in Tel Aviv (Shenkar) but after one semester I realized I want to be a comedian so I quit and disappointed my Jewish mom…
What do you do for work?
I’m a waitress as my temporary job (for the last 11 years!!) I’m not sure when the temporary job turns into ‘it’s my career now’. Hopefully will work as a full time standup comedian and pay the bills through the laughter of people. It’s my dream.
What do you do for fun/to relax?
Comedy. As much as I take it seriously while I build a career as a standup comedian, it is also a fun time. It makes me happy, energized and relaxed at the same time. It’s my fuel. Beside that I LOVE traveling, being in nature and in new places to find new cultures and amazing views. Our world is incredible.
What do you do Jewish now?
I ALWAYS say ‘Tfilat Haderech’! And I eat Kosher.
My favorite thing about being Jewish is our traditions. No matter how far I am from my home and family, it brings me back right away when I light Shabbat candles or fast on Yom Kipour.
How did you get involved with comedy?
I loved comedy since I was five years old. I was always learning comedy sketches by heart and then performing them in front of my class. When I was 14 I decided I could do it myself and after a few months of writing 5 (not very funny but pretty confident) minutes I became the youngest female comedian in Israel when I was 15.
Do you also do standup in hebrew?
I started in Hebrew almost 14 years ago but my biggest dream was to do it in French. I found it more convenient to start in the language I spoke and I kept learning French (as my third language) till 2015 when I did my first set in French and made my biggest dream at the time come true. I did comedy in English before that in Stockholm when I was 20 years old and also in the amazing growing scene of Tel-Aviv!
Do you find it challenging to do comedy is either Hebrew Or English?
Surprisingly I find it more challenging in Hebrew and that’s because of the crowd. The Israelis (I know, I’m one of then) have the Chutzpa, they are very warm people but they also don’t have patience! So a comedy show in Israel must be very creative to keep them interested and entertained (otherwise they might talk on the phone, leave the room or even yell at the comedian “you’re not funny”- which all have happened to me.) The American crowds are more patient. They would go out to watch comedy and even if they don’t like the comedians, they will respect them. Americans have so much respect that they might laugh with me even if they stopped understand what I’m saying five minutes ago! (French people are tough too by the way…)
How is American Jewish comedy different than Israeli comedy?
The Israeli comedy is very different and way more ‘open’ than American Jewish Comedy. There is a lot of sensitivity for racism in the U.S. right now so every word a comedian says on stage comes with the risk that someone might get offended. Since the early days of the country there was ‘Kibutz Galuiot’ (‘the gathering of Israel’) when a lot of Jewish people from ALL around the world came and they brought their own unique culture, language, traditions and colors. All those differences brought a lot of racism. Nowadays we are generations of mixtures, so we feel much more comfortable to make fun of each other, we have a lot of jokes about culture and accents. I am half Yemini and a half Polish. I don’t mind when people tell me I’m Yemini means I’m cheap. I’m not cheap, I’m saving! And when someone says my Polish side is cold I’d say- correct! My grandma told me I have ugly knees when I was four years old, it only made me stronger…
Tell us more about your experience moving to America?
To be honest, I didn’t even want to come here. My mom was a Hebrew teacher in Western Massachusetts and she kind of forced me to come visit her (she bought me a ticket), I wanted to keep staying in Paris. When I realized how amazing the American crowds were, I changed my mind. I really liked it here and then I met my husband, on an open mic night in Charlestown, MA. It takes time to get use to a different place like that between the language, the culture and especially the food (I miss real hummus!) but it’s beautiful at the same time, to learn about differences, to be the one who is different and to learn to like new food (I love Burger King!)
What is your American dream?
I like to talk about it on my shows, I don’t think the American Dream is a real thing- it’s more of an American Challenge. A dream for me is an amazing goal that will make you happy, to move to another country shouldn’t be the dream, it could be a part of a dream. People that move to America and call it an “American Dream” are missing something, because they still need to work and pay taxes and I bet that this wasn’t a part of the dream for anyone!
My American Dream will come true when I can say proudly to my Jewish mom- ‘I told you I can make it, I am a standup comedian, without a temporary job on the side.’ I want to write comedy, produce funny stuff and try to make as many people that I can get laugh!
Was marrying an American part of that dream?
My husband is not Jewish and I was very scared in the beginning about how my family would react but surprisingly everyone who met him loves him. My husband has a lot of respect, for me, my family and towards my beliefs. And more amazing than that, he loves to take part of any Jewish tradition I keep, on Fridays I am free we ALWAYS do Kiddush, every holiday he helps me cook and usually will invite his family as well. They are all very excited to learn about my religion and eat the best food in the world (my Aunt’s recipes!) and he even fasted with me on Yom Kippur!
Who is your favorite Jewish American comedian? Israeli comedian?
I have so many favorite comedians in Israel I think the standup comedian that will always make me laugh is Hen Mizrahi, the way he talk and presents his jokes is so unique and hilarious. There is also an amazing scene of Israeli Standup in English, it is run by Yohay Sponder and Shahar Hason. They do shows on Sundays and Mondays with amazing Israeli comedians and international comedians and it’s all in English, so add that to your next trip!
My fav American Jewish comedian would be Sarah Silverman. I love being compared to her. I also love Adam Sandler, I think he’s one of the best representative we’ve ever had in the comedy world. I just watched him live recently in Massachusetts and then met him in Boston and he is such a cool, nice person. He earned my love forever!
When the tribe gathers…It’s sure gonna be funny…and there will probably be a lot of food.
Yael will be here August 26th! Get Tickets Now!