“It’s hard to convey the infectious quality of a good storyteller, but Joel ben Izzy has it.”

– The Washington Post

 Telling

While the stories I tell come from all over the world, my own life and my travels, I am especially drawn to those tales where the lines between “story” and “reality” blur. It happens when a character from an ancient Chinese folktale comes to life in a doctor’s office, or when the great Sufi trickster Mulla Nasrudin suddenly shows up in line at the grocery store, or when decisions made by the fools from Chelm turn out to be far wiser than those of our nation’s leaders.

These are the stories I weave together, bringing them to life with voices, characters and plenty of humor, so as to make sense of this life we all live. I tailor the stories I tell to the needs of every audience I meet, ranging from kids ages 5 and up through high school. I also love working with college students and adults, who I find are ripe for hearing powerful stories.

My specialties include:

  • Stories from the Jewish Tradition
  • Tales of Wisdom and Foolishness
  • Spiritual Tales from Around the World
  • Healing Stories
  • Stories to Build Cross-cultural Bridges

To give you a sense of how that works with a live audience, check out A Tale of Curses and Blessings. Or you can watch The Story of An Orange. The former will give you a sense of my first book, The Beggar King and the Secret of Happiness, while the latter will give you a sense of my new book Dreidels on the Brain. You can learn more about both books, as well as my CDs, at the Books and CDs page.

If you’re interested in arranging bookings for performances and workshops, please use this form to say a little about what you’re looking for, where and when, and I’ll get back to you. Here are some of the venues I am currently booking performances and author’s visits, both here in California, throughout the United States and around the world:

  • Festivals – Storytelling, Music and Folk
  • Schools and Colleges
  • Theaters
  • Synagogues and Jewish Community Centers

And here are some of the many and varied places I’ve told stories over the years.

As for my fees, those are best discussed directly, once we have a sense of the logistics.

“Joel ben Izzy is a master at telling his smoothly woven, smiling tales.”

– The Los Angeles Times

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDjd8DQ1xqI&t=67s

Watch Joel Tell Stories

Selected Venues

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to perform, lead workshops and gather stories in some amazing places.

Here are a few:

Featured Performances at Festivals:

  • Cape Clear International Storytelling Festival, Ireland
  • The Bay Area Storytelling Festival, Berkeley, California
  • Bankoh Talk-Story Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii
  • Mariposa Storytelling Festival, Yosemite, California
  • The National Storytelling Festival Showcase, Jonesborough, Tennessee
  • Sierra Storytelling Festival
  • International Theater Festival, Geneva, Switzerland

Schools and Colleges:

  • University College Cork, Ireland
  • Stanford University, California
  • Canadian Overseas Academy, Kobe, Japan
  • L’Aiglon College, Chesieres, Switzerland
  • Hong Kong International School, Hong Kong
  • Nishimashi International School, Tokyo, Japan
  • The University of Jerusalem, Israel
  • UC Berkeley School of Law, California
  • Hebrew Union College, New York

A Few More Memorable Venues:

  • Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France
  • The Tokyo Jewish Community Center
  • The Zap Club, Brighton, England
  • An elevator in Macy’s, San Francisco
  • Playa Montelimar Resort, Nicaragua
  • “Let’s Talk Coffee” Conference, Panagos, Armenia, Columbia
  • Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, California
  • The Serena Hotel, Kigali, Rwanda
  • Loussac Theater, Anchorage, Alaska
  • “The Gab” – at the Pub called “The Hub,” Cork, Ireland
  • The ruins of an ancient Roman coliseum somewhere in Central Italy

While the stories I tell come from all over the world, my own life and my travels, I am especially drawn to those tales where the lines between “story” and “reality” blur. It happens when a character from an ancient Chinese folktale comes to life in a doctor’s office, or when the great Sufi trickster Mulla Nasrudin suddenly shows up in line at the grocery store, or when decisions made by the fools from Chelm turn out to be far wiser than those of our nation’s leaders…

As a kid I dreamed of becoming a writer, and as I grew older, that dream grew. By the time I got to college it had grown so large that I couldn’t handle it, so I dropped out of Stanford and went to live in Paris, figuring that’s what writers did. I wandered the streets Hemingway and Joyce had wandered, drank in the same cafes, and thought writerly thoughts. In fact, I did everything but actually write. To be honest, I might not have ever have written a book but for a bizarre twist of fate…

Over the past twenty-five years my work as a story consultant has taken me to some fascinating people and places, from coaching CEOs in New York skyscrapers to training women entrepreneurs in the hills of Rwanda, from work with thought leaders at a Washington, D.C. think tank to high-tech cancer researchers in South San Francisco, and from Hollywood movie studios to coffee farmers in Chiapas. Varied as my clients are however, they all have one thing in common…