JOEL BEN IZZY

Portrait by Emile B. Klein, oil on linen, mounted on panel, 12×18″
Production by Jeff Emtman and Emile B. Klein
Scoring by JJ Beck.

 

Joel ben Izzy is the inheritor of a Hebraic oral storytelling tradition handed down through the shtetls of Europe and brought to the Promised Land of California. Growing up in Temple City, a smoggy, anonymous “suburb of a suburb of a suburb” of Los Angeles, the Stanford-educated and Berkeley-based ben Izzy first told stories of “money falling from the sky, sick people getting rich” to his mother as she and the family struggled through the frustration of his father’s luckless business schemes. He’s since made a career of storytelling, as an entertainer, and as consultant to business, helping captains of industry understand the importance of storytelling to their sales pitches. No matter his audience, ben Izzy’s narrative style always recalls that of an earnest child desperate to distract unhappy adults, his soft, gentle voice pleading that his listeners join him in his fabulous, woven world that is always wiser, brighter, and vastly more just than the one they live in. There’s an infantile intensity to his work, as though his own childhood never had any satisfactory closure. “Mostly I look at the faces,” ben Izzy says of the people her entertains. “I think of how someone is hearing the story for the first time, and someone is hearing it for the last time. The faces keep it fresh and the stories feel alive.”       – Tony Dsouza
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