Kasher at the SXSW Comedy Fest, 2010
|Birth name||Mark Moshe Kasher|
July 6, 1979 |
Queens, New York, U.S.
|Medium||Stand-up, television, webcast|
|Education||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|Genres||Observational comedy, black comedy, surreal humour|
|Subject(s)||Everyday life, Human sexuality, self-deprecation, religion, race, politics of the United States|
|Spouse||Natasha Leggero (m. 2015)|
Mark Moshe Kasher (born July 6, 1979) is an American stand-up comedian, writer and actor based in the Los Angeles area. He is the author of the 2012 memoir Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16.
In 2009, iTunes named Kasher "Best New Comic" and his comedy album Everyone You Know Is Going to Die, and Then You Are! was ranked one of the top 20 comedy albums on iTunes that same year. He was also named "Comic to Watch in 2010" by Punchline Magazine.
Born in Queens, New York, Kasher moved to Oakland, California with his mother and brother when he was one year old, and lived mostly on disability assistance and food stamps. His parents split up when he was 9; his father remained in New York, and Kasher visited him regularly until his death -- Kasher was 20 at the time.
Kasher grew up in North Oakland's Temescal and Piedmont Avenue neighborhoods. A son of deaf parents, Kasher worked as a sign-language interpreter from the age of 17. His parents met at the World Games for the Deaf in 1967. His father, Steven, was born to secular, communist Jewish parents. Kasher's paternal grandfather was Yiddish writer Duvid Kasher. Steven was a painter when he met Kasher's mother, and later became a Hasidic Jew in the Satmar community in Brooklyn. He was later diagnosed with Gaucher's disease. Kasher's brother is a rabbi.
In his autobiography Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16, Kasher wrote about having been moved in and out of mental institutions from the age of 4 and using drugs from the ages of 12 to 16. He was kicked out of four different high schools. In an interview with SanDiego.com, Kasher described himself as "pretty straight edge," stating that he has been clean "since I was very young." He earned his G.E.D. at age 16 and later became a sign-language interpreter.
Kasher attended community college in the Bay Area, where he studied theater and wrote several long-form monologues. He later transferred to the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated with a degree in religious studies and minored in Jewish studies. Prior to his career in comedy, Kasher had considered becoming a college professor in Jewish history.
In 2001, Kasher attended an open mic comedy night in New York which included a performance by Chelsea Peretti, a comedian and writer with whom Kasher had attended junior high school in Oakland. After seeing her perform, Kasher asked Peretti to take him along on future performances, offering to perform with her. For his first performance, she took him to an open mic at the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco.
In the early 2000s, Kasher performed mainly in the Bay Area, regularly performing at the Punch Line and Cobb's comedy clubs in San Francisco. In the mid to late 2000s, he participated in many comedy shows with fellow comedians Brent Weinbach and Alex Koll. In 2008 Kasher moved to Los Angeles.
2009 marked a significant year in Kasher's comedy career. He was named "Best of Fest" at that year's Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festival; his performance in Aspen garnered him an invitation to the Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal that same year. This was followed by an appearance on the Comedy Central series Live at Gotham. Kasher had also released his comedy album Everyone You Know Is Going to Die, and Then You Are! through Rooftop Comedy Productions in April 2009; near the year's end the album was deemed one of the top 20 comedy albums of 2009 on iTunes. Kasher was also recognized by iTunes as Top New Comedy Artist of 2009.
Kasher's stand up act has been featured on such television programs as Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2010 and John Oliver's New York Stand Up Show in 2011. He has appeared on Conan, Showtime's Larry Wilmore's Race, Religion & Sex. He has also appeared as a frequent panelist on Chelsea Lately.
Kasher has performed at festivals internationally. In addition to the aforementioned Rooftop Comedy Festival and Just For Laughs, in 2010, he appeared at Fun Fun Fun Fest and South By South West both held in Austin, Texas, as well as Cat Laughs in Kilkenny,Ireland, and the Sasquatch! Music Festival in George, Washington. In 2011 he appeared at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in Melbourne, Australia. Kasher has also attended SF Sketchfest in San Francisco, California on several occasions.
In addition to the iTunes awards in 2009, Kasher was named "Comic to Watch in 2010" by Punchline Magazine as well as "One of the Top 20 Jews In The Arts" by Shalom Life in 2011. John Wenzel of The Denver Post also ranked Kasher #2 on his list of the top 10 comedy shows he attended in the Denver area during 2011.
Kasher is a published playwright, writer and author. While still in college, Kasher's long form monologue "Look Before You Leap" was included in the literary collection Monologues For Men By Men: Volume Two published in 2003. In 2011 and 2012 he contributed several articles to Heeb magazine. In 2012, he published his autobiography Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16 published by Hachette Book Group's Grand Central Publishing. He wrote an episode titled "Pardon Me" for the television show, The New Normal.
Kasher played small roles in the independent films Sorry, Thanks (2009) and Wish Makers of West Hollywood (2010). He appeared on episodes of the Fox sitcom Traffic Light in 2011 and the NBC sitcom Whitney in 2012. Kasher played the role of Ruben -- a gay, deaf man confined to a wheelchair -- in an episode of the U.S. television series Shameless which aired March 18, 2012.
In 2011, Kasher, along with Neal Brennan (co-writer of Chappelle's Show) and DJ Douggpound (Doug Lussenhop of Tim and Eric Nite Live!), started a podcast called The Champs. Kasher said the following of the podcast in a 2011 interview with SanDiego.com: "It's Doug dropping sound effects and beats over me and Neal kind of hosting an hour of ridiculous chat. We have a rotating black guy guest, there's a different black guest every week." Guests of the show have included actor/comedians Wayne Brady and David Alan Grier, as well as musician Questlove, adult film star Lexington Steele and professional basketball player Blake Griffin. The show has strayed from its guest format on occasion with guests such as comedian and actor Bobby Lee, former pornographic actress Sasha Grey, former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco and actor Aziz Ansari. In 2014 The Champs was named "Best Podcast" as part of LA Weekly "Best of L.A." issue.
In October 2014, Kasher premiered a new podcast on the Nerdist Podcast Network. Hound Tall Discussion Series is a live monthly podcast that covers a single topic. It's "an hour long chat with an expert and a panel of comedians, they learn all there is to know about things". The first episode was about harems and the expert was Jillian Lauren, author of Some Girls, while Pete Holmes and Beth Stelling made up the comedic panel.