Ari Shaffir: Jew | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Ari Shaffir: Jew

Note: This review is from 2018

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Ari Shaffir gets a cheeky sideswipe at some comedy colleagues even before he starts Jew, saying that this a show for British festival audiences, but with American sensibilities, ‘which means it’s actually funny’.

The man’s not wrong. This is an uproarious march through the religion he was brought up with and, unlike a certain prophet, Shaffir never once loses his way as he exposes some of the more ridiculous practices of his faith, sticking to his theme like a good Fringe comic. But a very bad Jew.

A comedian mocking religion is par for the course, but Shaffir wins on several fronts. Firstly, the brutal, no-holds-barred manner of his attacks on the Biblical stories those raised Christian will know; secondly, he reveals aspects of Judaism that will be news to goyim, which he then mocks afresh; and thirdly an attention to detail that can only come from close knowledge of his subject 

He knows his stuff because he grew up Orthodox and spent two years in a yeshiva in Israel, studying the Torah, which has given him some hilarious bits about the arcane theoretical discussions rabbis have had about the most unlikely of abstract postulates.

Yet for all the forensic analytical thought they applied to such philosophical nuances as whether a kosher soup could still be consumed if some pesky gentile throws some ham in, they somehow overlooked some gaping logical flaws in stories that form the very bedrock of their belief, from the rib being plucked from Adam’s chest to create Eve, to the entirety of the  Noah myth.

Shaffir ferociously deconstructs this story from every angle, not just making God out to be a genocidal psychopath for wiping out the world’s population just because he didn’t like gays, but considering just why Noah was chosen, why he didn’t warn the others, and Mrs Noah’s genitals.

Strangely, non-believers will learn a thing or two about Jewish culture too, just before Shaffir demolishes it, from the roots of Hannukah to how you keep your yarmulke on when playing basketball… while one text’s interpretation of what happens when men masturbate is a horror movie waiting to happen.

He is relentless in his attacks, whatever the sub-topic, deploying unforgiving language that gets the job done. That American club style ensures the blows rain down on Judaism in a storm of biting, aggressive, bulletproof gags that cut to the heart of the matter. 

Needless to say, any devout followers who wander into a dubious nightclub to hear the dirty comedian will be offended long before he gets to the requisite Holocaust gag.

Review date: 11 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: The Hive

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