Ashley Blaker defines himself as “the only kuple, tzitzis and payos in British comedy”. I couldn’t have put it better myself; Ashley is the UK’s only Frum comedian, and the star of the sell out tour “Ungefiltered”. My own attempt to describe him was “ungefiltered hilarity”, a reference to both his genius, and the comedy show I regrettably missed, even though it came to my very own Shul. My resentment towards this lost opportunity, however, has been lessened slightly by the fact that Ashley Blaker very kindly granted me the opportunity to ask him a few questions for this article. But not everyone’s so lucky. Ashley hasn’t promised an exclusive interview to everyone who misses his show, so my advice is to book tickets for next year’s tour, “Meshuga Frum”, as soon as you can. But in the mean time, read on if you’d like to know about his feelings for the said tour, his favourite Jewish holiday, and his goals for 5777- among other things….
What are your goals for 5777?
“I find it against my nature to ever answer seriously but will try my best. In 5777, I’m looking forward to my new UK tour and hopefully going to Israel and North America. I just hope it’s a year of fun and making people laugh and making lots of new friends.”
In Chassidism, the importance of joy is heavily emphasised. Do you think of your work as a mitzvah? Is that one of your motives?
“Well, [with] most mitzvos you’re meant to do lishma and I’d be lying if I said I performed in order to fulfill a mitzvah. However if there is any merit in it in that way then I’m happy to have it!”
You’re currently the UK’s only Frum comedian. Do you hope to inspire other Frum Jews to follow in your footsteps?
“No!! Then I wouldn’t be unique and maybe the others would be funnier than me! Anyway, there is the issur of hasagas gevul which means you aren’t allowed to come along and compete with me. I’m the UK’s only frum comedian and if you want to do it as well, tough luck, I got there first!”
Stepping away from comedy for a moment (or maybe not). What’s your favourite Jewish holiday, and why?
“I am addicted to hamantaschen. I ate so much poppy seed last year I would have tested positive for opium. Genuinely I love them so much, I have a scarcity mentality because I know they are only available for a limited time. Before I only ate cholov yisroel, I felt the same way about Cadbury’s Crème Eggs. So I have a huge stock of hamantaschen in a chest freezer and periodically take some out to eat the next day (sadly they take a while to defrost so can’t be eaten on impulse). Anyway, this is a long answer so in a word: Purim.”
What are your feelings about the new tour? Are you nervous? Excited? Both?
“Yes, nervous, excited and lots of other emotions as well. I’m a big one for pushing myself in every way. My wife and I are both like that, we try not to just take things easy and rest on our laurels, we’re always challenging ourselves in different ways. So I had the idea of doing a big UK tour last year and had no idea how it would do. BH people came and hopefully mostly enjoyed it. I didn’t want to do the same kind of thing again though so the next stage was to take it out the shuls and do a theatre tour. Again, I have no idea if people will come but I hope so as otherwise I will have to stand there for 90 minutes on my own and may get lonely.”
Something tells me that Ashley’s fears about standing in front of an empty auditorium for ninety minutes won’t come true. His intelligence and wit came through in these answers- and he wasn’t even trying to be funny. Nonetheless, this has proven to be a very entertaining project, so as well as saying thank you, I’d like to wish Ashley Blaker a sweet and healthy new year, from the bottom of my heart. Shanah Tovah!