Comedian Eitan Shalmon Struggles to Balance His Gay and Israeli Identities

Comedian Eitan Shalmon had a challenging struggle about being proud of his Israeli heritage and also being an out, gay man in Toronto.

Comedian Eitan Shalmon has always been a performer. As a child, he would put on plays at a resort his family would go to, and it was there that he realized he loved making people laugh and getting a big applause. Most of all, he loved the attention.

Since then, Shalmon, now 26, has been trained in all sorts of performance styles. During his time at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, and later at the University of Toronto, he discovered comedy was his true calling.

“I like the direct response of telling a joke and then the audience responding with laughter. You get that immediate satisfaction. You know you’re doing a good job if you get that response from the audience right away,” said Shalmon, who grew up watching comedians like Jerry Seinfeld and Billy Crystal.

“I’m friends with a lot of actors, and they all say that what they love about acting is getting into the character and becoming this different person. But I really enjoy making people laugh and knowing that I’m doing a good job, so it’s purely a selfish thing,” he said.

In fact, Shalmon, along with his troupe, Sketch Betch, will be performing their original show, Life’s A Betch, at this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival. It discusses and satirizes life’s daily inconveniences, and is the combined work of five writers, each with their own distinct viewpoints and writing styles. The show will open on July 6 at the Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, and will run until July 16.

“It’s been interesting working with them because everyone has their own style, and marrying all of our different techniques and styles into one show has been a really fun process. I think it’s important to not try to change or compromise our own voices to create a show,” said Shalmon, who has been featured in television shows on the History Channel and YTV, among many other accomplishments.

Shalmon, who grew up in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto, is the son of two Israelis who met in the Israel Defence Forces and moved to Canada in the early 1980s. Despite not living in a particularly Jewish area, Shalmon described his upbringing as very “culturally Jewish,” though not particularly religious. Continue reading on Canadian Jewish News