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Canadian-Israeli comic talks about Covid, cannabis, Canada, career, and more....

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Fans pack Kandi Abelson’s shows to hear her explore everything from weed, sex, Moses getting lost in the desert, and even some life lessons in between. | Photo: Yair Abelson

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I first met Kandi Abelson in Israel in 2012, while I was filming my documentary film A Universal Language. 

The film followed a tour of six Canadian comics, and, Canadian comedic icon Mark Breslin (of Yuk Yuk’s), as they toured Israel. Fellow Canadian-Israeli comic Kandi joined them on the tour, and I was exposed to one of the funniest comedians I’ve ever seen.

Kandi, now making her home in Tel Aviv, has been performing all over Canada and the US for over 30 years, but it took one viral video on the Israeli show “Hatzinor,” that made her a household name in Israel.

Fans pack her shows to hear her explore everything from weed, sex, Moses getting lost in the desert, and even some life lessons in between. TheJ.ca picked her funny bone about Covid, Canada, comedy, and her career – among many other wacky things.

Where are you originally from?

I’m from Montreal. I’m old. I’m 64. There weren’t even comedians when I was growing up… at the age of 29, I lost my business. I had become very rich and lost everything. More important, 600 employees lost their jobs – one of whom committed suicide. I actually went home to my parents’ house. [After that] I worked three jobs for a year.

So you decided to take on comedy in Montreal? What was the scene like back then?

Luckily, through a friend, I met a guy who wanted to start a club, and he needed a partner because he’d pissed off a lot of people. His name was Ernie Butler and we started the Comedy Nest together. It was his idea.

I was his co-producer, and I worked with him for a year. We worked with kids. I did the sound. I wrote for him. I brought in audiences. Slowly, I got the idea of what’s a comic.  

After a year, I produced the first Just for Laughs festival. They brought us in because they came to visit and (Hollywood actor) Jim Carrey was doing a guest set, and that made us look very good. They brought us in to produce… I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this… At least if you are on the stage, even if it’s not funny, it will be 10 minutes of weird shit.’

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How did your career evolve?

I got that spot, as it turned out, on the first day of the festival. Since nobody knew it was my first time, and I knew how to write, I stood on the stage and looked down and mumbled. I never stopped between punch lines because I didn’t understand that you had to wait.

I did ten minutes with four applause breaks – which is unprecedented, except maybe Norm MacDonald – in my first time. I bombed very soon after.

But that audience didn’t know I was fresh and I was in shock.

So, my first year was in Montreal. There wasn’t much of a scene. Quickly, I went to Toronto… From there to LA. I started as an opener, then a middle, then a headliner. Somehow, I started doing French, so I could visit my family – because there was no English. I became a star in French.

One of the things I saw was that you were really embraced by the comics in Israel.

Yeah, but they don’t tell me that. They watch me do my Hebrew and they don’t correct my mistakes. I could make a mistake for years and someone will say ‘That’s female not male.’ It’s like French, but worse.

“My Hebrew is really good, but there is a word we use a lot in Canada, that I haven’t figured out how to translate yet. It’s Sorry. It doesn’t exist here.” | Photo: Yair Abelson

What do you talk about on stage?

I talk about everything. That’s part of it. I’m not going to sit there and do two hours on one topic. We are in short attention span theatre. Do a couple of minutes, and move on. I talk about weed in every show because I’ve been a huge advocate for a long time… I don’t really talk about politics except for the big – like, ‘How crazy? I’ve lived here for eight years and voted 10 times…’ Or, ‘It’s Canada today. My Hebrew is really good, but there is a word we use a lot in Canada, that I haven’t figured out how to translate yet. It’s Sorry. It doesn’t exist here.’

How does a comedian continue in the era of COVID-19?

That was my first thought. Then, I was asked to do an international comedy festival on Yahoo, where they were giving every country an hour in English. How do I say no to that? What kind of asshole says no to that? People are sitting at home. They need to laugh. I did these Covid jokes that just came to me, like, ‘I’m not afraid to die, but I don’t want to die of Corona, because I don’t want my funeral on Zoom.’

Kandi Abelson set in 2018

What is it like to perform on Zoom?

I’m a Zoom slut. 10 weeks ago, I was a Zoom virgin. Now, we have a studio where you can have live people and cameras and the whole thing.

No matter what happens, my live shows, my Zoom shows are going to continue in English and French and Hebrew. I just always want to make people laugh.  

Do you know my rain joke? Israelis are not afraid of anything, except rain. The minute it is raining, they just huddle up under an awning. Why are you hugging me? ‘It is dripping on me! I have no umbrella. I did my hair! I must watch it.’ It’s so weird because terrorists come and they always bring knives. Israelis aren’t afraid of a knife. If I was a terrorist I’d come with a water hose. There you go! ‘No, no! We surrender. Just don’t schpritz us!’

Here is Kandi Abelson doing standup in Hebrew (click here)

To follow Kandi Abelson on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kandicomedy

Igal Hecht is a documentary filmmaker and journalist who works all over the world. 

 

For more info visit www.chutzpaproductions.com

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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