Having worked at the BBC for years, including as a scriptwriter for ‘Little Britain’, Ashley Blaker’s show charts his conversion from relatively secular Judaism – when Liverpool Football Club where his greatest obsession – to his increasing attendance at Synagogue following his wedding, and eventual adoption of an orthodox life.
While, as Blaker notes, orthodox Jewish people are a notably insular community, Observant Jew felt like an hour of communality, in which the differences between Jews and Gentiles, the frum and the not-frum were highlighted to give an insight into Blaker’s world. Although around half the audience identified as being from a Jewish background, the show was pitched at a level that was understandable for everyone, goys included.
Much of Blaker’s show was centred around the prohibitions of orthodox Judaism, including shaking the hand of a person of the opposite sex (unless you’re married to them) and watching TV. Blaker included a slightly laboured skit about repeatedly booking unnecessary dentist appointments in order to watch the TV as to illustrate the practical realities of this.
It was somewhat ironic, then, that Blaker’s performance was assisted by the use of slides, show on a TV screen. However, the visual addendums definitely supported his comedy, rather than serving as a distraction, as so often can be the case.
While the current political climate is seemingly unsuccessfully grappling with the issue of anti-semitism, Ashley Blaker’s show reinforced the notion that comedy can – and should – bridge the gap between communities through mutual and respectful humour.
Ashely Blaker: Observant Jew is playing 1st – 3rd, 5th – 10th, 12th – 17th, 19th – 24th, 26th August at 3pm, at Underbelly, Bristo Square (Venue 302)
For tickets and more information, click here