The Tale behind the Teller

John David “Hobbes” Hickey has been telling fables, folktales, and legends across Canada for over 20 years. He has won several storytelling competitions and his band TaelStrum was named as one of the top spoken word acts in Best of Montreal 2012. For three years, he gave guided tours of the haunted sites in Montreal in his persona of The Professor with Haunted Montreal.

David has an animated, energetic telling style that appeals to both children and adults. He performs in schools, libraries, pubs, cafes, and various festivals across Canada. He lives in Montreal, Quebec and tells tales mostly in English and sometimes in French.

David has published three CDs: Did You Hear That? (2014), The Bard’s New Hat (2010), and You Don’t Know Jack (2005). Read more about them in the Store.

Story Slam Champion and Host

In June of 2011, David competed in the Once Upon a Slam storytelling competition and tied for first place with Danielle KL Gregoire. In June of 2012, he returned to compete in the finals and won a second time!

So inspired, David decided to host his own Story Slam in Montreal called Slamtastique which ran for 4 years. It featured some of Montreal’s finest storytellers competing for glory and fabulous prizes!


* Spring of 2015, 2016: Told stories in NDG’s Porchfest.
* August 2014
: Won 1st place in the Bardic competition at Kaleidoscope Gathering.
* June 2012:
Performed with Concerto Della Donna and Iwan Edwards as their storyteller. Listen here.
* June 2012: Won 1st place in Ottawa’s Once Upon a Slam 2011-2012 Finals (second year in a row!)
* May 2012:
Won 3rd place in the Mic & Dim Lights Slam Tournament
* December 2011
Won 1st place in the December 2011 edition of Ottawa’s Once Upon a Slam.
* June 2011: Won 1st place Ottawa’s Once Upon a Slam 2010-2011 Finals.
* November 2010: Won 1st place in the November 2010 edition of Ottawa’s Once Upon a Slam.
* October 2010: Won Master of Storytelling podcast award for the Shortening the Road podcast.
* June 2010: Published The Bard’s New Hat, which is a collection of his favourite recordings from past couple of years.
* October 2009: Won 1st place in the Liar’s competition Festival Interculturel du conte au Quebec (Montreal, Quebec)
* August 2009: Won 3rd place in the Bardic competition at Kaleidoscope Gathering (Curran, Ontario)
* November 2008: Started the Shortening the Road blogcast.
* June 2008: Won 1st place in the Bardic competition at Wic-Can Fest (Mulmur, Ontario)
* February 2005: Published a book/CD called “You Don’t Know Jack” that features six stories about a young boy who helped ghosts, battled giants, and lied to the King.


What People are Saying

Now if the rest of the festival is equal to Tuesday’s event, An Irish Story (An scéal na hÉireann), which was billed as an evening of storytelling and poetry, hosted by Donovan King and the magnificent John David Hickey, who thrilled all those in attendance with his great stories (modern adaptations of traditional Irish folklore and legends), then everyone is in for a treat.
— Luc Archambault, June 2017
— https://www.westmountmag.ca/festival-bloomsday-montreal/


I have watched [David] go from strength to strength as a performer here in Montreal and at festivals. I regulariliy invite him to guest in my on-going series of concerts at Hurley’s [Irish Pub] in Montreal (the oldest series in Quebec and one of the oldest in Canada.) He is creative, engaging, committed to the art and an excellent communicator.
— Mike Burns


Much like a musician or an actor, Hickey rehearses and polishes his performances with care, attending to gesture, pacing and timing, eye contact with audience, selection of words and phrases to emphasize, and so on.

Hickey has a keen interest in the role of storytelling in people’s lives, as a teaching tool, and as a cultural event, where traditional values and relationships are enacted. As this is a professional research interested of mine too, I feel that I am in a good position to observe Hickey’s understanding of complex philosophical and anthropological principles such as narrative identity, cultural selection, and communicative action.

He is also keenly aware of what live performance storytelling can do, which radio and television cannot do. Indeed in one of my own philosophical projects, I quoted him a s a research informal, in the matter of the relation between teller and audience.

— Dr. Brendan Myers, Ph.D.


The charismatic duo share their jack stories in a way that keeps the reader/listener entertained with enough intellectual creativity to give them pause for thought as well. While no discredit to the cd included I’ve had the pleasure of seeing JD perform live, which is really the true experience. Keep chasing your dreams guys!
— Greg S. (from a review of You Don’t Know Jack)


Refreshingly entertaining! We are lucky enough to have been able to attend the launch and were blown away by the energy coming from these tales! The cd is a popular gift to all ages of family and friends.
— Terrie Gra-auga (from a review of You Don’t Know Jack)


I commute day and night and I used to listen to the radio to take my mind off of the 1h travel. Since I have bought this cd, I have listened to it many times a week in my car and, every time, I get transported to another world. Snow and wind don’t exist anymore, but the characters that I encounter with each telling have become friends. The stories are well told and, because of the quality and professionalism of the storytellers, I can say that I have participated in all the adventures told and met all the heroes. This cd is a gift to all who want to marvel at who we are and what we can recapture both from when we were young as well as now. I strongly recommend it.
— Marie-Christine (from a review of You Don’t Know Jack)


I love fairy tales and this is a wonderful little collection of them all about one famous character, Jack. I am a teacher and the book is a wonderful little gem to have in the classroom. My kids love listening to the stories on CD while they eat their snack and I’ve listened to it so many time that I have them memorized. This comes in handy since I’ll reward the kiddies with me telling the story with actions and voices and I’m always mean enough to time a cliffhanger just before the bell to leave them coming back for more 🙂 And having the book is great because I can prepare lessons, have the kids read it for themselves and have discussions about the stories. I love this book and would highly recommend it to anyone! Can’t wait for the next collection to hit the shelves!
— Sarah B. (from a review of You Don’t Know Jack)

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