Ari Shaffir talks about growing up as an Orthodox Jew and ‘escaping’ in his 20’s at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m an Aquarius. I like the outdoors and having sex without condoms. I’ve been doing standup comedy for 19 years. I think actors are garbage people so I associate with them only when I get fooled into thinking one of their projects has value. So far I have only been wrong.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
It’s all about Jewwwwwwwwwwwwwws! I grew up as an orthodox Jew (Oh, should this have been in the last question?) and I managed to get out in my early 20s. There is so much weird shit in there that I never thought about until the last few years. And I’m finally strong enough as a comic to be able to make that stuff relatable and funny.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half. I started when I finished work on my last Netflix special. And I worked really hard to make sure everyone can understand it. What probably makes it most relevant to today’s audiences is that it’s funny. There’s is so much hatred in the world and unfortunately that’s seeped into standup pretty hard. It bothers me so much. Why the fuck can’t you make your points in a funny way? I’m not even saying don’t talk about terrible things or political things or sad things. I’m just saying make it funny. Are you a comic or a fucking pundit. Jesus. Anyway, I have a code about my standup and first and foremost that code says be funny. I think there’s a huge percentage of audiences that want that. So, my show is funny. It’s also about the old testament a lot but none of that shit should matter to the audience. They should come because they want to laugh for an hour straight.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Two drinks one water and then one drink one water after that for the rest of the evening. You’re gonna want to skip a water, but that’s a sucker’s game.

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
I once made $1,000 dollars for taking my dick out.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
I really like Louis CK and Bill Burr in terms of the breadth of their work. Their output is astounding and the levels they consistently hit really make me work harder. I love when people say something is inspiring or inspirational and then they can’t show anybody how it’s inspired them to do anything. They just mean uplifting. Inspiration means it has made you do something. Those two guys made me work harder.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
It’s not voodoo. What fucking 8 year comic have you been talking to that has a ritual they do every time? Are you kidding? I go on stage 600 times a year. What the fuck kind of crazy person would I be to do some ritual that often. Ridiculous question and I’m POSITIVE the answers you’ve gotten are lies and exaggerations.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
Carl Donnelly is always funny. Ahir Shah, Nish, Jessica Michelle Singleton from America, Steve Bugeja, Alex Kealy, if Nick Cody abandons his newborn child and comes I’ll see him, I never manage to get a ticket for Sloss before it sells out and he’s never offered to save me a seat so fuck him, Fin Taylor, Fern Brady, Paul Currie is always fun, James Acaster and then I just let my flatmates introduce me to great UK comics that I’ve never heard of.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
See them all. I ain’t in competition with anybody. But, I do give you an American style of standup, which is severely lacking at the Fringe. And if you don’t know what that style is, it’s complicated, but first and foremost it means nobody cares about your dead father. Make us forget our own dead fathers for an hour. Be a god damn comic and make us laugh.

See Ari Shaffir: Jew at Heroes @ The Hive throughout the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 2nd – 26th August.


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