The glatt kosher comic who ob­serves the ob­ser­vant

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - COM­EDY AN­GELA EP­STEIN Meshuga Frum Lowry The­atre, Manch­ester Lit­tle Bri­tain frumkeit parve fleishig www.ash­ley­blaker.com

DON’T FRET too much if you missed Ash­ley Blaker’s new show at Sal­ford’s Lowry The­atre this week. There are plenty of other chances to catch it, as this is just the start of his na­tional tour. And a stroll around the streets of Jewish north Manch­ester (or cer­tain parts of Lon­don) will re­veal ex­actly where the UK’s “only Ortho­dox stand up” sources his ma­te­rial

For the “meshuga frum” that he gen­tly lam­basts in his epony­mous tour are well and truly out there, heav­ing their Pre­vias around the streets of Broughton Park and block­ing a drive­way or bus lane near you.

But that’s what makes Ash­ley Blaker so funny. In his own slightly skew­ered way (he works in tele­vi­sion but doesn’t own a telly…) the fa­therof-six holds up a mir­ror to the madly hyp­o­crit­i­cal, con­tra­dic­tory and of­ten frankly bonkers world of the Jewish peo­ple.

And not just the frum­mers. We’re all fair game. Af­ter all, he notes, frum is a rel­a­tive term. If keep­ing two days Rosh Hashanah is your only nod to­wards re­li­gious ob­ser­va­tion, you’ll still dis­miss as goy­ish the peo­ple who just keep the one day.

There’s no doubt­ing that Blaker, who was re­spon­si­ble for first un­leash­ing the com­edy on to an un­sus­pect­ing na­tion, brings some­thing to­tally un­prece­dented to stand up.

Not only does he look meshuga frum, but his slightly awk­ward, self­ef­fac­ing, de­liv­ery smacks a lit­tle of the real life be­hind the façade, too

Cer­tainly there’s the sparest of stag­ing — just Blaker, a screen for a few vi­su­als and a lap-top in­ex­pertly smug­gled be­hind a podium. Still, this un­var­nished set­ting suits Blaker, who jokes with the — I would haz­ard — 99 per cent Jewish au­di­ence about how early we had all ar­rived, even though the seats were num­bered. To give struc­ture to his show, Blaker takes us through the 10 com­mand­ments of what you have to do to be con­sid­ered meshuga frum — from thou shalt not use the in­ter­net to thou shalt look Jewish. Along the way he shows how lit­tle eludes his keen eye. From the fact that ev­ery shul has a strange man with a bow tie to the naughty ob­ser­va­tion that even post-Sav­ile syn­a­gogues still have a bloke who hands out sweet­ies to the chil­dren . Par­tic­u­larly hi­lar­i­ous are Blaker’s at­tempts to find par­ity be­tween the Jewish and non-Jewish world. Take our re­spec­tive new year tra­di­tions. While non-Jews party late and dance to Jools Hol­land, ours starts at 8am, in­volves hours of dav­en­ing and is “de­signed to suck all the joy out of the new year” as we con­sider who will die at his pre-des­tined time .

Not that any of the, ahem, frum­mers, in the au­di­ence had a prob­lem with such un­apolo­getic rib­bing. Even when he knocks those who show­case their by boast­ing how lit­tle their phones do (“mine doesn’t even have in­ter­net”).

With­out re­course to swear­ing or smut, Blaker’s re­lent­lessly funny show makes us co-con­spir­a­tors in his com­edy. Though he missed a trick in the in­ter­val where I spot­ted some the­atre go­ers with a stash of their own

choco­lates be­cause they were still when they came out.

Ben­dicks, Jewish, pop­corn goy­ish. Ash­ley, we’re with you all the way.

Frum and funny

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