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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.

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.

 

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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.

APPLY NOW

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 MollieS@GatherDC.org
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”

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 www.TheComedyNews.com, and enjoy his late-night jokes at www.BrianFishbach.com.  Join The Comedy News’ Facebook page for updates.