The UK’s Only Ultra-Orthodox Stand-Up Comedian: Ashley Blaker

Ashley Blaker is really funny.

This London based, international award-winning comedian has headlined off-Broadway’s “Strictly Unorthodox”, recorded a radio show for BBC, written and directed acclaimed comedy “Little Britain”, and performed stand-up on four continents. Next stop, a synagogue near you*.

Lucky for you, we scored a one-on-one interview with Mr. Blaker so you can get to know the man behind the kippah.

Oh, and if you’re in need of an afternoon pick-me-up but are desperately trying to avoid having another cup of coffee at 5:00pm (no, just me?) check out these videos of Ashley talking about sushi, driving, and music.

*Mr. Blaker will be performing at Sixth & I on Sunday, February 10th at 7:00pm. Get $10 your ticket price with this exclusive promo code for GatherDC-ers: ASHLEY.


Photo Courtesy DDPR

Allie: You didn’t grow up as an ultra-Orthodox Jew. Why did you decide to become frum later in life?

Ashley: I compare [my relationship with religion] to drug addiction. I have an addictive personality, and the rabbi [at the Orthodox synagogue] who was kind of a pusher tricked me into a free sample. When I got married the rabbi gave me a free membership for a year and I kept going. I was hooked.

Allie: What inspired you to become a stand-up comedian?

Ashley: It happened entirely by accident. I’ve only been doing it for four years. Before that I was a writer and producer of comedy for TV and radio. I’ve always wanted to do stand up, and when I was 16 or 17 I performed a bit, but was too young to take it too seriously. Someone once suggested I speak at an event and I found myself getting back into [stand-up comedy]. I wasn’t thinking I wanted to do this as a career. Now, it’s all I do. Soon, I will have performed comedy on five continents!

Allie: What is your favorite part of performing stand-up comedy?

Ashley: The feeling of performing for an audience if they’re laughing. If they’re not laughing, it’s not so fun. I love bringing people together. I’ve done a lot of shows where you see an incredibly diverse group of people in one room. I did a show in Newcastle where there was a traditional Jewish audience, some non-Jews as well, and sitting across from them was a female rabbi from a reform synagogue 20 miles away.

Allie: What are the biggest difference between performing in America and performing in the UK?

Ashley: Americans are unforgiving with language differences. I know when I come to America I have to say flashlight when I mean torch, or cell phone when I mean mobile. British people tend to watch American TV so we’re more forgiving with [linguistic differences]. Also, Americans don’t tend to like puns or word play so much. But our Jewish experiences are universal no matter where i go in the world.

Allie: How do you come up with material?

Ashley: Just through my daily life, I see things and make notes. I talk about things that interest me.

Allie: Your Wikipedia page says you grew up with Sacha Baron Cohen, is that true?

Ashley: Sacha and I were at school together, and Matt Lucas who I work with. The water in my high school produced a lot of comedians.

Allie: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Ashley: I really don’t know. Four years ago, I could never have imagined that I would have my own BBC show. I’ve compared myself to a gambler at the tables in Vegas. I’ve been on a winning streak for sometime. As long as I’m winning, I’ll keep playing. One thing I’d love to achieve is to go to Antarctica, and perform on all 7 continents. Even if I’m just performing for a few penguins.




You can see Ashley Blaker perform on February 10th at Sixth & I. A pre-Valentine’s Day date perhaps?! Get your tickets here.



The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Jewish Improv Workshop

Learn improv for FREE with Rabbi Aaron Potek as he leads a 3-week workshop on his 2 favorite things: Judaism and improv.
Improv and Judaism can be seen either as a fringe hobby or a way of life. In this three-week-long workshop, we’ll attempt to unpack some wisdom behind both improv and Judaism, with a focus on where these two philosophies intersect. The workshop will integrate Jewish texts and improv exercises. Participants will come away with new perspectives on Judaism, fun improv games, and a “spiritual” practices to incorporate into their daily interactions. No prior experience with a background knowledge of improv or Judaism required.


What: Jewish Improv Workshop
WhenTuesdays from 7-9 pm, May 15, 22, and 29
WhoDC-area Jewish young adults
Where: GatherDC’s Townhouse – 1817 M St
Cost: Free
Questions: Email Mollie Sharfman at
DEADLINE TO APPLY: Friday, May 4th at 5 pm 


About Rabbi Aaron Potek
Aaron Potek was born and raised in Saint Louis Park, MN and graduated from the University of Michigan School of Engineering. After receiving rabbinical ordination from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah in Riverdale, NY, he served as the campus rabbi at Northwestern University. Aaron currently works with Jewish 20’s and 30’s as the Community Rabbi for GatherDC in Washington, DC. He has studied improv at UCB in NY, iO in Chicago, and WIT in DC. He currently performs with Keegan Hines on the two-person team “Double Stuff”

Billions of Wild Animals Thrilled about National Park Shutdown

yellYELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WY – (@TheComedyNews) – While many people thorughout the United States are furious about being furloughed from their Federal Government jobs, there are billions of animals who are taking their share of joy.

Due to the Federal Government shutdown, all National Parks are closed to tourists, leaving billions of diverse wild animals free of gawking tourists invading their habitats.

“I can hardly remember the last time I was this relaxed”, a Yellowstone Elk rejoiced.  “I’m a three-year-old father of seven.  I used to worry every day that a dumb family from Wisconsin will run over one of my children with their Subaru.  Good riddance!”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Bryant, a two-thousand pound grizzly bear..  “No matter how many people we gore each year, tourists keep coming back.  It’s really annoying.  But just one government shut down and bam!  All intruders to our neighborhood are gone.  Now I can go fishing for lox and dumpster diving without annoying tourists shooting sepia-faded Instagram photos of me.”

In addition to the natural fauna at the closed National Parks, the flora are pretty amused by the lack of tourists and researchers as well.

“Look at me, I’m 5,000 years old,.  Have I been waiting for a time that all the scientists would just fuck off for a few days?”  A Redwood tree in Northern California at the eponymous National Park snapped while smoking a cigarette.  “You bet I have.  You try to germinate while some dork in short shorts and tubesocks takes measurements of your dong.”

Still, there is some wildlife that misses the daily drudge of human contact.

Damien, a Burmese Python at Everglades National Park expressed his insistence that the parks open up to tourists once again.

“It’s not that I enjoy harming humans,” Damien explained.  “Me and my buddies just like to scare the shit out them.  ‘Snake!  Snake!  Snake!'”  Damien mocked.  “Man I miss that shit.”

Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Jewish Comedian Spotlight: Lenny Bruce

Lenny+Bruce++3Anyone who has ever ranted to their friends about something they despise, something obscene, something taboo that you just had to get off your chest and broadcast to those around you—- you need to know the story of the legendary Lenny Bruce.  

Born Leonard Alfred Schneider in 1925, Lenny was dead by the age of 40.  And in that short life, he laid the groundwork for the best comedians of the last fifty years.  Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, Joan Rivers, Bill Cosby, Jon Stewart—-each has listed Lenny Bruce as an influence.

First, to understand Lenny Bruce’s comedy, you need to have a perspective on what the United States was in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s.  The United States was not politically correct in the way it is today.  It was homogenized.  In the public sphere, there was much deference to authority, the government, properness, and social restraint.  For entertainment, people didn’t go to coffee shops and listen to up-and-coming comedians tell dick jokes.  On television, comedians were not even allowed to say the word “pregnant”.

His early stints in comedy were while he was in the US Navy in the 1940s.  He was kicked out for dressing in drag and being under the suspicion of engaging in homosexual activities.***  Even then, his wit was splashed in the face of authority.

Fourth Officer: “Do you enjoy wearing women’s clothing?”
Lenny: “Sometimes.”
Fourth Officer: “When is that?”
Lenny: “When they fit.”

Lenny made light of his Jewishness as part of his routine.  One of his more famous routines, Jewish vs. Goyish still bites as hard as it did when he first performed it as a master of ceremonies at the slummiest of strip clubs in Los Angeles.

Lenny was also known to skewer politicians on their hypocrisy and vapid personalities, much like Jon Stewart does today.  The big difference?  Lenny was only on television six times.

“I could never visualize Eisenhower even kissing his wife.  Not on the mouth anyway.  He didn’t even go to the toilet either, he just stood there.  He didn’t even go to bed, he just sat up all night, with his clothes on, worrying.”

“And even Nixon–well, he kissed his wife, but on the forehead, and only on Thanksgiving, in front of his in-laws.”

But not everyone was laughing with Lenny.

Anyone who has ever touted their First Amendment right to free speech needs to know the story of the legendary Lenny Bruce. 

It seemed like the government was the only big threat to Lenny.  Still, the audiences were enthralled with his audacity and profane profoundness.

In 1961, Lenny was arrested in San Francisco for obscenity in public.  And by public, it was a comedy show.  Where people go to see people break social norms for sport.  This became a habit for Lenny.

He spent the last four to five years of his life getting arrested for pushing the comedic envelope.  Transcripts of the most entertaining parts of the trials can be found in his wildly amusing autobiography, “How to Talk Dirty and Influence People”. Still, Lenny stood trial, was convicted, and died not long after—way too soon— in 1966.

As a significant side-note, Lenny was a raging heroine addict.  If he got his addiction under control, he would likely still be around today.

The system was out to get him.  In fact, when he died, the police took his pants off and photographed him as a final smite against the guy who taunted their masters so pointedly.

In a time when comedians were telling straight-up jokes, Lenny Bruce made people THINK.  He told stories that made people question the system around them.  In the 1940s, 50s, and 60s, nobody on TV or the radio was talking like that.

Now turn on Comedy Central in the year 2013.  Lenny would fit right in.

***To be fair, Bruce would have been reprimanded for this behavior in 2012.


Watch Dustin Hoffman’s Academy Award nominated portrayal of Lenny Bruce in the film “Lenny” on Netflix.  

To see the best amateur standup comedy show in Washington, DC, be sure to go to RFD in Chinatown every Thursday at 8:30 PM.  Free.  In the back room.  810 7th St NW  Washington, D.C. 202-289-2030 .

To stay in the loop about the best amateur standup comedy in Washington, D.C. go to

Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – 9-Year-Old Gets Downgraded for Spelling June, “JEWNE”


MILWAUKEE, WI – (@The Comedy News) – Nine-year-old Brian F. (name redacted due to age restrictions) received quite a surprise when he got his graded U.S. History test back in Mrs. Teller’s third grade class.

“I was the only one in the class to get 100% of the questions right, but I spelled June wrong, so I got a 90%,” explained Brian.  “I spelled June with a ‘W’.  It should have a W anyways.”

Brian’s initial defense was that he recently started Hebrew school so he has ‘Judaism on the mind’ more than usual.  Still, his teacher did not budge on Brian’s egregious spelling error and insisted that the grade remain the same.

Later that week, after asking his babysitter Matt for advice, Brian wrote a note to his teacher contesting the grade once again:

Dear Mrs. Teller,

Mark Twain once said, “I don’t give a damn for a man who can only spell a word one way.”

Please change my grade.

Sincerereelrely,  (sic)


Mrs. Teller’s response to this note was forcing Brian to do one month of indoor recess for using the word “damn”.

Brian responded with a written statement in Crayon:

“but by then, school will be over, we don’t have school in the month of JEW-LIE.”

Jewne month of jew june


Brian Fishbach is a writer and comedian.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – Signs You’re Turning into Your Jewish Father

dadYou consider ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’,  ‘The Producers’, and ‘Rent’ to be Jewish cultural history.

You kiss as much ass with your significant others’ parents as much as you do with your boss.

You spend 25 minutes looking around the house for your reading glasses not realizing that they’re on your face.

You recite jokes that are five paragraph essays.

Your cell phone interrupts the silence before Ha-motzi—and the ringtone is the theme to “Curb Your Enthusiasm”

Most of your stories begin with, “Did I ever tell you about the time…” and before your audience can answer, you tell them for the third or fourth time.

You have no idea what an embarrassing story is.

You wear a hideous adjustable baseball hat with your friends’ company logo on it.

You fall asleep at Major League Baseball games, but only for a few minutes.

At non-Jewish weddings, you complain that there’s too much liquor and not enough food, and that there is no one there to callously estimate how much the whole wedding cost.

You tip-toe out of bed to secretly go on YouTube and laugh hysterically at old clips of ‘The Three Stooges’Blazing Saddles’and snippets from the ‘Howard Stern Radio Show‘ from the early 1980s.

You cease to mix self-consciousness with your propensity to sing Rat Pack tunes.

You say, “I don’t need to buy any new clothes, mine still fit and are in style”, despite the fact that you bought them 15 years ago, they have holes, and a plume of dust emits every time someone pats your shoulder.

No matter how perfect the meal is, you always find a reason to complain to the waiter at the restaurant.

You have developed a super power called “the ability to completely tune out nagging”.

When you forget to bring a plastic bag when you’re walking the dog, you shamelessly just use your hands to clean up after the pooch.

You buy a paper copy of the New York Times every day to “keep the gray old lady in business”, even though you own an iPod, iPad, and MacBook.

You fall asleep at Barnes and Nobles while reading Chaim Potok and Mitch Albom books—except the Barnes and Nobles store has been a NikeTown for a year and you’re just passed-out in the middle of a shoe store.

When a salesman tells you the price of a car, the least likely thing you will say is “sounds great, I’ll take it right now!”

You have no inner monologue when it comes to discussing your health issues.

You have been told more than once this week to trim your nose hair.

When your children tell you about a new friend they made, you immediately ask them, “What does their Daddy do?”

You have children and love them as much as you complain about them when you’re taking a schvitz.

Add your own Jewish father signs in the comments!

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – National Archives Condemned and Evicted for Excessive Hoarding

archivesWASHINGTON, DC – (FACEBOOK:  The Comedy News) – Health inspectors have condemned and evicted the National Archives Building in Washington, DC due to excessive hoarding.

“When we walked in the Archives building, it smelled like mothballs and gymsocks,” said DC Health Inspector Daniel Tanner.  “Everywhere you look, there were black and white photographs of Civil War-era debutantes, to-do lists dating back to 1776—and an irrationally elaborate security system to keep anyone from stealing this old, stinky, faded junk—it was sad and with all due respect, pathetic, to see such rampant hoarding.”

A team of health inspectors in haz-mat suits reported that over 4.5 million documents, microfilms, and photographs were being hoarded in the 76-year-old building.

“Ever wonder what happens when the Congress passes a bill?” Questioned Health Inspector Tanner. “Those piles of paper come to this building to just sit, collect dust, and rot.  Although not very many Acts of Congress have been added to the pile of hoarded paper in the last 10 or so years, the Archives staff seem be delusional enough to think that people actually have a use for all this Government junk —all saved up in this here building.”

A 30-by-30-foot orange banner was hanged from the Corinthian pillars at the Constitution Avenue entrance of the National Archives.  It reads, “Eviction Notice—Warning Some of the Rotting Contents within These Premises Are Almost 800 Years Old.  Do Not Enter.”

According to the deranged curator of the condemned Archives building, somewhere in the pile of hoarded Government documents is a very significant document about a conspiracy to assassinate President John F. Kennedy which he refused to show anyone until the year 2017.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

GTJ Satirist Brian F. – Japan Admits Cherry Blossoms Were Just a Scheme to Flare-up Americans’ Allergies

cherryWASHINGTON, DC – (@The Comedy News) – Officials in Tokyo, Japan admitted today that the gift of Cherry Blossoms to the city of Washington, DC in 1912 was only a scheme to agitate Americans’ allergies.

“Yes, the gift of 2000 Cherry Blossoms to Washington, DC one-hundred years ago today was only a deceptive trick to make Americans sick and miserable,” a Tokyo city official announced.  “We are not saying we are sorry, we’re just taking credit for this hilarious Trojan horse you all can’t seem to get enough of.”

The tree pollen emitted by the Cherry Blossom trees has wreaked havoc on DC inhabitants and the millions of visitors who flock in droves each spring to see the pink cherry blossom trees in bloom.

For decades, some people have suspected that Japan’s “generous gift” of cherry blossoms to the United States in the Spring of 1912 was indeed a deceptive means to make Americans miserable and sick.  Now that those rumors have been confirmed, historians are suspecting that President Harry S. Truman authorized the atomic bomb-dropping on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as payback for Japan’s snotty prank.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.


GTJ Satirist Brian F. – “Fear Factor: The Jewish American Prince & Princess Edition”

fearNEW YORK, NY – (@The Comedy News)  – Executives at NBC are debuting a spinoff of the hit game show, Fear Factor, titled “Fear Factor:  The Jewish American Prince & Princess Edition”.  Hosted by Canadian Jew Seth Rogan, the latest installment of Fear Factor will test the patience,  neuroses, and basic cardio endurance of Jewish American Princes and Princesses.  The first four episodes will take place in Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
The latest promotional advertisement features the 30-year-old actor speaking to the audience: “Hi I’m Seth Rogen, and this is ‘Fear Factor:  The Jewish American Prince and Princess Edition.’  The stunts you are about to see were all designed and supervised by trained professionals—specifically Doctors, Lawyers, Fundraisers, and Rabbis.  They are extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
Below is a preview of each episode of the first season.PILOT EPISODE:  Miami Vices and Crises

Second Stunt:  Contestants will have to eat luke-warm, frozen store-bought bagels schmeared with Le Moche Chevre—- the world’s most bitter blue cream cheese.

Third Stunt:  The remaining Jewish American Princes and Princesses will be given a Lexus with four flat tires.  The fastest Jewish American Prince or Princess to change all four tires drives home with the Lexus.

EPISODE 2:  Dorks and Pork in New York

First Stunt:  Jewish American Princes and Princesses from the Midwest who have never visited New York will be challenged to travel from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn without asking anyone for directions in less than four hours.

Second Stunt:  Contestants will be forced to sit in a room filled with 613 open jars of Manaschevitz gefilte fish.  The temperature will be set at 90 degrees.  The first three to exit the room or throw up will be eliminated.

Third Stunt:  The remaining Jewish American Princes and Princesses will be forced to dine at New York’s most vilified restaurant, Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar.  None of the orders will be served timely or accurately.  The first contestant to heckle the waiter, chef, and Guy Fieri into running out of the restaurant crying and screaming hysterically wins—and gets to punch Guy Fieri in the balls.

EPISODE 3:  City of Angels (Even Though Jews Don’t Believe in Angels)

First Stunt:  Contestants will have their federal income tax returns audited.  Those with errors will be eliminated.

Second Stunt:  Contestants will be given $2,000 in cash and dropped off on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills during regular business hours.  Any contestant returning with less than $1,990 will be eliminated.

Third Stunt:  The remaining Jewish American Princes and Princesses will walk into the William Morris Endeavor talent agency, tell an original Aristocrats joke, and then act it out.  Whomever WME signs to an agent wins.

EPISODE 4:  Chicago White Sox with Sandles

First Stunt: The contestants will be treated to a marathon of Mel Gibson movies: Mad Max, What Women Want, Conspiracy Theory, and The Passion of the Christ.  The first three to walk out or shout obscenities at the screen will be eliminated.

Second Stunt: Contestants will spin a wheel labeled with the Ten Plagues of Egypt.  Whichever one of the plagues the wheel lands on, the contestants must eat—that includes darkness and firstborn.

Third Stunt:  The remaining Jewish American Princes and Princesses will do the Hora on the observation deck of the Sears Tower.  The contestant that goes the longest before their mother phones them to “get down from there because it is dangerous” wins.

Brian Fishbach is a comedian, writer, political satirist, former GTJ JGOTW, and musician specializing in social and political commentary.  You can read Brian’s weekly satire news articles at, and enjoy his late-night jokes at  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.

Jewish Guy of the Week – Brian

Want to recommend an outstanding leader to be featured on GTJ? Nominate him/her at


Aaron: What brought you to DC?
Brian: The weather.  I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where we have two seasons:  Packers season, and construction season.  DC’s allure for me was its four seasons:  Fall, Winter, Cherry Blossom worship, and humidity.  The other big reason to move to DC was to work on Capitol Hill.

Aaron: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Brian: Short answer:  Comedian.
Long answer:  After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, where I performed in musical theatre, I took comedy classes at the DC Improv.  From there, I performed in various types of comedy including improv, standup, and musical comedy.  Since 2010, I have been doing predominantly standup comedy—with shows all over the DMV, New York, and recently I performed at the world-famous Laugh Factory in Hollywood.

I also write satire news columns each week for The Comedy News, and compose nightly Late Night Jokes you can find on my self-indulgent website,  I have also been contributing monologue jokes and sketch acting on The Charlie Visconage Show— DC’s only live late night talk show.  So the comedy scene in DC has been super good to me, but I will be relocating to Los Angeles mighty soon to take the comedy writing to shinier pastures.

Aaron: Who are your favorite Jewish comedians?
Brian: Lenny Bruce, Sarah Silverman, Mel Brooks, Larry David, and 20th Century Adam Sandler.

Aaron: Can you tell us a joke?
Brian: No.  Come to a show.

Aaron: Please, tell us one!
Brian: The National Zoo revealed that the cause of death for the baby Panda recently was due to lung and liver damage.  I was surprised because I didn’t know the baby panda was getting nursed by Charlie Sheen.

Aaron: What was your best Halloween costume?
Brian: Ace Ventura.   I did it in 2004 and 2008 — it’s turning into an election year thing.

Aaron: If you were king of Gather the Jews, what would you do?
Brian: Lift the 5,000 year-old ban on shellfish.  I’ve seen the light, and it tastes superb when battered in butter.

Aaron: What is your favorite Jewish dish that your mother made?
Brian: Noodle kugel.  I make it every year for the Yom Kippur break fast.

Aaron: What was the last Jewish event you attended?  Tell us about it.
Brian: It was a Shiva—not kidding either.  But I don’t want to ruin the mood and describe it for the GTJ community.  Instead, I’ll tell you about the last Bar Mitzvah I went to:  It was my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah in Boston.  There were Jello shots for the adults, Red Bull for the kids, press your own waffles, and a photo booth.  And the actual ceremony was beautiful as well.

Aaron: If you could write a book, what would it be about?
Brian: Currently working on a humor book.  The working title is, The Worst Things You Could Do and it’s set to be completed in time for Chanukah stocking stuffing.

Aaron: Where can we find you on a Friday night?
Brian: McFadden’s!  Okay, not really, just checking to see if you actually read this far.  On Fridays, I’m usually out performing in a comedy show or supporting friends’ shows.  Oh, and Shabbat dinners of course (Catered at McFadden’s).