The Jewish Nomad: YidLife Crisis are going back to where they came from in ‘A Closer Luc’

By now, you may have heard of the Montreal yiddishist comedians known as YidLife Crisis. 

After all, Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman have been written about once or twice this year at The CJN, not to mention the article they wrote themselves near the end of the weekly newspaper’s life.

So, with the backstory already covered, I wanted to talk to them about what’s next.

Jamie, who’s now based in L.A., is coming home next month to join Eli for a cheekily titled event, A Closer Luc.

Montreal is where this project started, but the past few years have found them veering into more of the “Global Shtetl.” Meaning, they’ve been exploring other Jewish parts of the world including England, the United States and Israel—oh, and let’s not forget the exotic land of Toronto. 

But the duo realized they’d never done a hyper-local homage to the area they grew up in, Côte St. Luc, a residential family-friendly city right next to Montreal, with a large Jewish population. (Let’s be real, it’s basically Montreal—except they have their own mayor.)

Now, after receiving a $25,000 grant from the Montreal Arts Council, their neighbours will get the tribute they deserve. 

“Côte St. Luc is home in our hearts,” says Eli. No matter how far and wide in the world we go. Côte St. Luc has indelibly left its imprint on us.”

As a result, they’ll finally be able to cater to an audience who gets all their inside jokes, and show off all that the neighborhood has to offer for “anyone else that dares to venture in.”

I grew up in the West Island of Montreal, but I always visited CSL Jewish hot spots growing up like the Cavendish Mall, which had an infamous pirate themed jungle gym. (It’s since been replaced with a much mellower version, sans theme.)

The area is jokingly referred to as “Côte St. Jew.” Drive through and you’ll have a hard time finding a house without a mezuzah in the area, so the nickname certainly rings true!

With plenty of synagogues and kosher restaurants nearby, it looks like the shtetl is still going strong.

I asked the YidLife guys what their go-to spot for food is in the area. Jamie refused to pick favourites, but Eli immediately responded Snowdon Deli—a well-known kosher-style restaurant on Decarie Boulevard, which is a short drive away from CSL.

(I also recommend stopping at Côte St. Bagel for the authentic—and certified kosher—Montreal bagel experience!)

So, if this has piqued your interest, A Closer Luc will take place in the Harold Greenspoon Theatre of the CSL Library and will be presented as a live variety show with video and music. (Jamie plays piano. Eli plays guitar.) They guarantee “thought-provoking shtick,” albeit with no money refunded if it falls short—because it’s free.

For fans of their comedy outside of Montreal, they will be continuing their U.S. tour this September with two shows in Florida. Hey, maybe you’ll snowbird earlier this year.

Be sure to sign up here to check out A Closer Luc in person on Aug. 17 from 7-8 p.m. or watch it unfold anywhere via YouTube.

What’s new on the podcast

Coming up this week on Bonjour Chai, an episode all about interfaith marriage, in honour of the nuptials of David Sklar, my cowboy-hat-wearing co-host from Calgary. Mazel tov! 

In the meantime, check out this triple feature in our latest episode:

  • Rabbi Avi (or as the YidLife Crisis folks call him, “Ravi”) get heated with the head of Montreal Kosher
  • A snippet of my interview with author Nathan Englander about the stage adaptation of his short story, What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank
  • And a lil peek into the world of the Maccabiah Games, with Menschwarmers co-host Gabe Pulver

Happy listening! And look for a new hour or so of Bonjour Chai premiering each weekend from The CJN.

Ilana Zackon can be reached at ilanawritesthings[@] and found on Facebook and Instagram.

HEAR what else she has to say every week on Bonjour Chai