Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?
Hi, I’m Avital Ash. I’m an actor, writer, director, and stand-up. I’ve been working in film and TV for 17 years. I’ve been doing standup for the last 8 years, and have over 70 million views for my female-driven content on socials.
I wrote/directed/starred in a segment of the pro-choice anthology feature film, ‘GIVE ME AN A’, which had an incredible festival run and just came out on VOD a couple days ago! The no-budget web series I created and starred in, '7p/10e' was the foundation for two CBS pilots, executive produced by the creators of ‘How I Met Your Mother.’
I guest starred on ‘BARRY’ on HBO, ‘Cake’ on FX, and voiced a lead role in the smash hit video game OXENFREE.
I live in Los Angeles with my dog, Luke, and an unrelenting anxiety about basically everything.
How would you describe your show?
It’s very dark and very funny. It’ll tear your heart out but leave you with some life-affirming hope, too.
My biological mom killed herself when I was a baby, which I know sounds sad, but I was a really bad baby. The show is my grappling with her legacy, growing up a Hasidic Jew, depression, queer identity, and assault — but keeps you laughing the whole time.
What is your favourite part of your show?
There’s a specific bit of crowd work that’s always really fun for me. I don’t get to do as much of it as I’d like with this show, since it’s so structured, but I love the moments when I get to do it.
If your show had a theme song, what would it be and why?
It would be The White Lotus season 2 theme, because it slaps.
“Hallelujah,” by Leonard Cohen is an actual theme of the show. Growing up we weren’t allowed to say the word “Hallelujah”, because it has the name of God that you mustn’t take in vain. Cohen’s song is contemplated within the show, in myriad ways.
What is one thing you hope audiences will take away from your show?
I hope people feel held during the show and laugh a lot. I hope they leave a tiny but mushier than when they got there, that they feel seen, or are reminded of their capacity to connect.
If you could add a surprise celebrity cameo to your show, who would it be and why?
Leonard Cohen. Because: a. he ties into the show so seamlessly, b. I’d FINALLY get to meet Leonard Cohen (omg I’m gonna faint), and c. I’d be bringing him back from the dead which basically makes me Girl Jesus. Wins across the board.
Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
I’ve been working in Los Angeles for ages and have this incredibly romantic notion of escaping to Scotland where I can be surrounded by art, artists, cobblestone.
LA can feel so results driven, and Edinburgh Fringe feels like it has a deeper appreciation for process. (Although, ironically, I keep getting asked what I hope to “get” out of EdFringe.)
What differentiates it from other festivals?
The sheer size makes it unique. The access to variety. You could watch shows all day, every day, and never see it all.
The spirit of it, which is hard to articulate: Freedom, anything goes, weirdos welcome. It’s electric.
What is one thing you would change about the Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
This’ll be my first one, and it is legendary, so I don’t feel fit to make any changes just yet. Other than, y’know, wave my magic wand and resolve the housing crisis.
How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?
My upbringing contributes to my idiosyncratic and dark point of view. The religious pressures of growing up an Orthodox Jew while being queer, being inquisitive to a fault in the wake of my biological mom’s suicide, the macabre humor I’ve used to cope with trauma, all inform my comedy. And then as far as education… There’s the insecurity around never having gone to college, which also means I have FHOMO — fear of missing out on gay stuff.
What is your favourite thing about performing for a live audience?
My favorite thing about performing live are those moments when the audience and I are super present, and we explore something new together. Often it’s crowd work, learning about a person, finding something that unites us in an unexpected and fun way. Sometimes it’s finding a new beat or joke in the moment, onstage. The surprise, the spontaneity. And the way we hold space for each other to make those discoveries.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you while performing?
I once got onstage so depressed, so low, that I couldn’t remember jokes or how to tell them. I shared what I was feeling and started asking audience members who had dealt with depression some questions. It led so organically to making jokes, cheering each other up, and lots of laughter from the crowd. It totally lifted my spirits in the process.
What's the most challenging or unconventional venue you've ever performed in, and how did it impact the overall experience?
I got asked to do this Kesha x Travis Barker music video where I would be playing a standup comedian. And when we filmed it, the director asked me to actually do standup. There were extras sat at tables around the stage, but only the first 2-3 people could actually hear me, if that. The mic wasn’t actually on, there was a lot of competing noise and I think smoke machines — it all felt uncanny. It was like something out of a Charlie Kaufman movie. And then it never came out.
Is there a piece of feedback you've received from an audience member or critic after a performance that’s stuck with you?
Someone told me I was “flying above” my material — making jokes about some very dark things, without wrestling with the actual pain of the reality underneath.
That’s feedback you can see I really took to heart with this show.
What is your favourite thing to do in Edinburgh when you're not performing? How do you relax and look after your mental health?
Eat delicious food! I love seeing other shows. I also love walking around. It’s so beautiful there. For my mental health, I’m hoping to take baths, meditate, and get a massage or two.
Is there a show you’re excited to see when you’re up there?
Several! My friend Rebekka Johnson & Anne Gregory’s show, THE RETREAT, which I’ll be lucky enough to guest on a few times. WIPs from Lara Ricote, Rose Matafeo, Britanick. Adrian Bliss’s show – I’ve read fuck-all about it, but I enjoy his TikToks.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone thinking about taking a show up to Edinburgh? If you’ve never been before, what would you say has been (potentially) the most useful?
Nothing has been useful so far. It’s obvious all of my friends want me to fail.
When and where can people see your show?
10:05 pm with Monkey Barrel at The Tron
And where can people find you online?
@avitalash on TikTok & Instagram, or at www.avitalash.com