7 offbeat things Conan O'Brien should do when he’s in Israel
Instead of the usual tourist spots, the late night host would feel right at home at these unique locales – including a goat farm.
After traveling to Berlin, Mexico City and other places near and far, Conan O’Brien has announced where he'll be landing for the next installment of "Conan Without Borders." The late night host and his staff will be decamping from their Hollywood studio and heading to Israel for a week of shows. O'Brien's seventh international adventure will air in September.
As Team Coco's staff preps for the trip, we have suggestions for a few off-the-beaten-path places they should visit in Israel...
Stay at the Naot Goat Farm B&B
Yes, yes, we know .... stupid pet tricks is a David Letterman tradition. But Conan, who often refers to Letterman as his muse, should definitely check out this goat farm in southern Israel. Naot Farm is an active dairy farm that also includes four private guest cabins for Conan and his assorted guests. (We're looking at you, Andy Richter!)
Breakfast each day includes several varieties of homemade cheese – from soft cheese balls coated with flavorful spices or dipped in olive oil, to hard cheese infused with wine, thyme or dried fruit. (You'll recall, Conan once tried to sell cheese on a Spanish telenovela.) Besides, goat farms in Israel are where Harvard astronomers go to come up with ideas to find aliens. Seriously.
Stroll into the Comics N Vegetables comic book shop
The late-night host has long been a presence at the annual Comic-Con convention in San Diego. In addition to hosting his show there for the entire week of festivities, O'Brien is also a familiar presence on the convention floor itself. He's filmed bits about Star Wars stormtroopers and Dungeons and Dragons fans. Oh, and who could forget that time he went toe-to-toe with "Wonder Woman" star, Israeli actress Gal Gadot?
Which is all to say that we think he'd feel right at home at the Comics N Vegetables shop in Tel Aviv. Owners Sharon and Danny Amitai make sure they can find whatever obscure or sought-after comic book a customer may be seeking. "My motto is to never say 'No,'" Sharon told From The Grapevine during a recent visit to the store. Sounds like Conan's motto, too.
Shop at a store that only sells University of Alabama merchandise
O'Brien, a former Ivy League student who eschewed sports to instead write jokes for the Harvard Lampoon, has been known to mock college athletics a time or two. Fans of his show are familiar with a recurring sketch where he introduces the audience to lesser-known college mascots. Previous entrants have included The Rutgers University "Out of Work Sopranos Actor" and the Northern Illinois University "Really Tall Dachshund."
So that's why we think he'd have a grand old time chatting up Dia Abdeen at his University of Alabama-themed store smack in between shops selling ancient trinkets in Jerusalem. The cognitive dissonance – not to mention Adbeen's infectious personality and winsome smile – would make for a great sketch.
Play chess ... underwater
Late night television shows are chock-full of bizarre games. Trivia questions with the audience is so old-school. Today's landscape now features Wheel of Impressions, Random Phrase Carols and Musical Beers. And those are just three of the dozens featured on Jimmy Fallon's show.
So that's why we think Conan should partake in something quirky as well. Ever heard of Diving Chess? Neither had we, until we met Etan Ilfeld, the Israeli-American brainchild behind the new game. It requires the same skill set as chess but with, you know, the added element of H2O. Each player must make their move while submerged in a pool. Just think, Conan in a Speedo, playing chess. Ratings will spike through the roof!
Get comfortable at the beach, any beach
Speaking of swimwear, the Mediterranean country is known for its myriad beaches. From the cliffs of Netanya to the shores of Haifa, there's a beach for just about everyone – including the famously pale-skinned late-night host. One can imagine that O'Brien, who moved from New York to Los Angeles a few years ago, should feel right at home on a good beach.
But whatever you do, don't ask him to hop on a surfboard. On an episode earlier this year, the 6-foot-4 O'Brien said he had no interest in surfing. "I feel like it's not something I'm gonna figure out at this stage of life," he said of the sport. Perhaps he could get lessons from Anat and Noa Lelior, teenaged surfing sisters from Tel Aviv who compete around the world. And if he still doesn't want to ride a wave, he could try a sand game popular in the area called Matkot.
Gulp down some gazoz
Tasting the delicacies of his host country has become delicious fodder for Conan on past international adventures. In Berlin, he drank beer and learned how to make sausage. He tasted fish cakes in South Korea and drank rum in Cuba.
We assume Conan's already enjoyed some classic falafel and hummus at the many restaurants serving Israeli cuisine in Los Angeles. But has he tried gazoz? Yeah, we didn't think so. Think of gazoz as an old-fashioned soda – made from simple syrup and soda water and with no added sugar. Cafe Levinsky 41, a tiny eatery in Tel Aviv, is famous for its gazoz. The proprietor makes each cup by hand in front of the customer. Which means even more funny interactions for our favorite talk show host.
Tour the Hermit House in Herzliya
Nissim Kahlon's expansive earthen cliff-side home was the subject of a 2014 documentary titled "Apollonian Story." (Photo: Moscovitch/Bronfield/Apollonian Story)
Like many comedians, the 54-year-old O'Brien prefers to not always be "on," and relishes some quiet downtime. So with that in mind, may we suggest a visit to the Hermit House? Situated on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean, the earthen residence was built completely by hand. Since 1970, designer and creator Nissim Kahlon has been burrowing deep into a cliffside under Apollonia National Park, using only natural materials to create dozens of chambers and structures.
Conan and other curious visitors to Apollonia National Park will be happy to know that Kahlon, when available, is happy to show off his beautiful creation.
And he's on his way!
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