By Tyson Paul
No one has ever managed to succeed in this business, without daring to be different. Throughout their career, comedians are encouraged by hosts or promoters prior to an upcoming set, to go out on stage and give audiences something they’ve never seen before. Known to many as the purest form of performing arts, comics use their moment in the spotlight to show the world just how far they’re willing to go for a good laugh on a nightly basis, risking their vulnerability in the process.
What sets Or Mash apart from other comedians is her ability to embrace being daring and different, showing us a greater side to comedy. After serving the Israeli Army for 2 years than building a lucrative career in the online gaming industry, Or decided she would rather make people laugh than continue to sell apps to men in suits. Almost overnight, she moved to Los Angeles, CA, and started performing stand-up comedy in legendary comedy clubs such as The Comedy Store and the Hollywood Improv. Or’s stand-up is a raw, honest and unapologetic look at her own life. She offers a hilarious outsider’s take on modern American culture and society, from the perspective of a fearless Israeli immigrant.
While doing the best she can to survive the stay-at-home order in Los Angeles to begin 2021, Or recently sat down with We Own The Laughs.com Tyson Paul to talk about her memories in comedy, using fashion as a way to set herself apart from other comedians, surviving the pandemic in Los Angeles, and many more. Now you can get with this or you can get with Mash.
What are some of your first memories of comedy in general?
Growing up I started noticing that making people laugh gets me out of trouble, the bigger the trouble, the funnier I had to be. I felt it most being a soldier in the Israeli army. I didn’t have ‘soldier qualities’ growing up. I’m kinda clumsy and a hippie. One day I got caught walking around the Israely army base with no shoes on, they sent me straight to court. I managed to get out of Army jail by making the judge laugh. That’s the first time I felt the power of humor. I think growing up in Israel you have to have a sense of humor. Israelis are funny and enjoy a good laugh!
How long do you think it took you to get adjusted to your new surroundings?
How adjusted am I? I still don’t have health insurance but I did manage to get into enough debt to build a great FICO score.
You perform comedy in several different forms. When you sit down to write, are you doing it with a certain form in mind? Or do you sit down with an idea and then see how you can play with it?
Funny thoughts usually come to me when I’m busy doing other stuff. Then I have about 30 seconds to write it down before it’s gone forever. My most creative times are early morning or right before I go to sleep. I’ll write it down, and come back to it later. If I read it and it made me laugh, then I’d develop it. Sometimes though I’d write down something in my sleep then come back to half-finished sentences and spend the rest of my time trying to figure out wtf it was.
One thing that sets you apart from most comedians is your unique sense of fashion. How did you become so fashionable?
I feel that clothes are another expression of my personality. When I dress in a way that makes me feel good, it makes others feel good. My clothing choices are colorful, and I like to accessorize equally as eccentric with toys or sometimes quirky glasses, wigs, and hats. I like to break rules and give people a sense of freedom, the freedom to be as silly as you want. I always said a nice jacket can open doors for you. My fashion sense was once described as, “whimsical toddler picking their first outfit.” I took it as a compliment.
The world is currently going through the COVID-19 pandemic, what has been your experience during the pandemic?
I miss the stage, that being said I’ve learned that you don’t necessarily need a stage to make people laugh. What I really missed is making that connection with people. I performed my balcony to the neighbors in the other buildings and that was really fun. There was something really cool about me telling jokes on my balcony and hearing people clap from their rooftop. I think that this whole year taught a lot about how important we are to each other. Humans are social beings, we live in groups and need to say things to each other. I remember the first time they removed the lockdown and the roads started opening up, a car didn’t stop for a pedestrian so he pointed his finger and told the person in the car F you! The guy in the car says “go f yourself. for the first time in months, I felt relieved like things were normal again.
What is your writing process like? Has it changed at all because of the pandemic?
Because there are no shows, it’s difficult testing your material on an audience. So I created a bubble of funny like-minded people, usually comedians, to bounce ideas off of. Pandemic has encouraged me to create more opportunities to write with other comedians, and develop ideas. You have to give yourself something to look forward to.
You have a creative knack for waking up in some very unfamiliar places, but your fans on social media love it. How did this come about?
The deep answer is that I was inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s silent comedy, and how he could make you laugh and think without saying a word. I really wanted to create something that shows people how silly life is sometimes. I felt that social media often paints a twisted reality of perfection but beautiful to me is your imperfections, silliness, and sometimes waking up hungover on a boat. It all started at Burning Man. I just woke up one day and realized the absurdity of where I was and the stories I had to tell. I looked around, and there were so many other people who I was sure had a story about what they were up to. What started as a joke became a real thing people look forward to and follow! people messaged me all around the world! It’s an amazing feeling when someone tells you you made their day.
Does where you wake up the next morning depend on if you had a great set or if you bombed the night before?
Me waking up in weird places is because I bomb at life.
Where are the most creative spaces to wake up from a night of partying?
Random and remote places always bring out more creative thoughts. I woke up on kayaks, boats, camels, I woke up at a tantric cult class, that was a wild one I never shot. I think this comes because I fall asleep easily.
What would you say the purpose or role of humor is in society?
One time after a show, this older couple approached me and said my ISIS bit had them dying (no pun intended), they then told me that their house was damaged due to the fires and that tonight was the first time they laughed in a while. I think comedy’s most important purpose is a relief. One thing I heard often during 2020 is people saying they need a laugh. The greatest thing about Comedy is the way it brings people together.
Who or what inspires you to keep going, even when you face obstacles?
My sister Ophir, and Bar because always push me to keep going. Ophir makes sure that everything I do has a certain look and quality. Bar and Ophir were the reason I came to America initially, they’re the ones who told me to follow my heart or shut the f up. Israelis motivation talks are aggressive. Even when things didn’t look like they were going to work out, she immediately jumped in to help all the way from Paris. I thought that as a last-minute sign from the Universe that this was where I am supposed to be.
What is your favorite or most memorable set you’ve ever done?
Like many comics before me, my most memorable set, the first time I went up to The Comedy Store Hollywood. I arrived in LA and didn’t know anyone. My first buddy Joey told me that he wanted to take me to the Comedy Store, being my first week in America, I was curious, so we went. I thought we were going to see a show, but when we got there he walked us up to the upstairs where there was an open mic. Midway through we’re outside smoking, btw some of the strongest weed I’ve had in my life, and someone comes out to announce that there Is an all-woman joke challenge. Someone goes, “Hey Or you’re a woman”. and pushes me up. I told my joke and won 3 minutes of stage time. I only had one joke though, so I bombed the rest of the set, still, that was a pretty memorable and amazing time.
Do you have any pre-show routines?
I like to run my set in the bathroom, I pretend the sound of the toilet flushing is crowd laughter. So I can clean up my set and my colon simultaneously.
One of your most memorable jokes is when you explain how the marijuana you smoke is more legal than you are in America. What are your thoughts now that marijuana has been decriminalized?
I love it…except for the fact they charge $15K an 8th. Someone told me it’s you’re paying for the container. I miss the days when weed was chill and came in a sandwich bag. I mean you can’t re-use that small container for anything.
It’s been 4 or 5 years since your debut in stand-up comedy. How do you think you’ve evolved as a comedian from then to now?
I’m more of myself onstage. The longer I do comedy, the fewer fucks I have to spare. I think there’s a direct correlation between the amounts of fucks you give to the level of funny.
Who are some of your favorite comedians to perform with?
My inferences include George Carlin because I feel he really had something to say, Dave Chappelle for his style of storytelling, Bernie Mac for his rhythm, the outrageous unapologetic Sam Kinison, and Eddie Pepitone for his comedic style.
What have you missed most from not being able to perform nightly?
The free drinks, because now I drink all the time but I have to pay for it.
Do you have any advice for young comedians adjusting to different comedy clubs and larger crowds?
Sometimes I would ask myself ‘OR, why are you doing this to yourself?’ Because it’s fun and brings happiness. Remind yourself that the times on stage should be fun. Nothing matters, Just do your best and have fun.
Are you currently working on developing a half-hour or hour-long comedy special and if so, what would you call it?
My sister Ophir Mash and I produced ‘Mash Sisters’ in collaboration with award-winning director Natalia Monticinos who just finished post-production on an episodic comedy series called Needs. It portrays Two foreign sisters struggling to fit in a world that makes less sense by the day, modern America. The series tries to answer a question on the minds of countless motivational speakers, mediocre vloggers, and desperate subscribers, what do we need to be happy?
The pilot episode got recognition and won festivals all over the world and we are very excited to shoot the rest of the season. I’m also working on a fresh 30-minute special. I always thought it would be cool to shoot at the Comedy Store Original Room since it’s called the O.R.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down many comedy clubs and theaters with no end in sight. It’s changed the mindset of many comedians, causing them to question if stand-up comedy will even exist in the next few years. Where do you see your comedy career heading? Do you plan to continue making people laugh with your comedy, or is there another direction you’ve been considering?
The medium might change but Comedy will always be a human need. No matter what happens in the world people will always need to laugh and to be entertained.
Given the opportunity to do everything all over again, is there anything you would change?
I wouldn’t change a thing. I learn to enjoy the process. The magic is in the process. Live in the moment. Enjoy it.
What are some of the goals that you would like to see yourself achieve in the next five years?
I’d love to bring my artistic ideas in front of the camera and on the largest stages. I’d also love to collaborate with musicians and join the worlds of comedy and music. Staying busy and happy!
What’s next on the horizon for you?
During quarantine, my sister and I shot a funny music video that did great and we’re working on more funny songs that will be part of the Mash sisters brand and the series NEEDS. To get updates on Needs and what we’re up to follow @mashsisters. I am also working with my producer Davy Nathan on a music EP. The songs came out really great and I’m very excited for them to come out! Waiting for the world to legalize comedy so comics can get back on stage doing what we love!
Checkout Or Mash’s music video “Rockabye Baby”
Checkout Or Mash on Season 1 of We Own The Laughs (Start at 21:14):
*Photos courtesy of Van Corona & Nithin CV