THERE’S many places you’d expect Alex Edelman to turn up (after you get ‘acquainted’ with him for one hour) but a white supremacist meeting isn’t one of them. The New York comedian’s Just For Us show recalls the experience which he threw himself into partly for curiousity, no doubt for material but mostly because he was invited through Facebook.
I still have a number of Facebook invites on hold from people (total and utter strangers) and I leave them there rather than delete them just in case it turns out they’re a rapist, total nutjob or go on to run the country. Nothing would surprise me.
The white supremacist message is of course such a curious invitation to a Jew. (perhaps he’ll thank them in the credits at an awards ceremony for making ‘Just For Us’ possible?) Paraphrasing, the invite was pretty much ‘if you regard yourself as white-only then walk this way’. It’s an anecdote about walking into the white supremacists’ lair and confirming, yes, they’re ignorant idiots. It’s a funny story delivered with energy and oomph and confirms what the audience realise when we see Alex perform on stage – the boy’s got chutzpah!
Alex sprinkles the show with a smidgen of background and family familiarities recalling, “I grew up in this anti-semitic part of Boston called Boston” which garners great laughs from the audience who know only too well the current British climate in politics and beyond reeks of appalling racist behaviour.
His twin brother qualified for the Winter Olympics representing Israel in the Skeleton sled-sliding ‘not a real sport’ race and didn’t enter the luge ‘feet first’ sport (in skeleton you compete head first) because clearly ‘luge is for pussies’. He talks of his religious upbringing, being educated at religious Jewish Yeshiva school for 12 years – ‘yeshiva is a hebrew word for ‘miserable”.
The 2014 Best Newcomer winner at the Fringe informs us (the Great Edinburgh Fringe Audience) that he wrote a couple of episodes for ITV2s American sitcom The Great Indoors starring Stephen Fry.
Apparently UK house-hold tv name Stephen wasn’t recognised by the US producers and when suggested he star with Hugh Laurie they laughed it off and thought it wouldn’t work. Of course, laughing about Fry – who’s been dominating tv since the 1980s with Blackadder, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Jeeves and Wooster and QI – not being recognised is a bit of a stretch.
That aside it was an extremely energetic and polished show.
Alex describes the white supremacists he didn’t have the pleasure in meeting as ‘brave morons’. They’re only described as ‘brave’ because liberals (probably most of us in the audience) aren’t brave. Apparently it’s the easiest stance to take being anti anything bad and being pro everything good.
The ‘morons’ are broken down as individuals and are real people in the same sense as the bigots, racists and misogynists highlighted in Sasha Baron Cohen’s ‘Who Is America?’
For some reason it’s not suprising he’s been ‘tested 11 times for autism’. When Alex’s eyes widen to the biggest golf-sized eyeballs I’ve ever seen I believe he’s no doubt been tested for a number of things.
At some points during the show he appears wired or possessed and has that Janice (Friends) New Yorker loud, brash in your face voice when he’s exaggerating or over-emphasising a point. I’m not sure whether it’s his schtick and he’s playing to stereotypes or it’s just him being himself. Some things are best left unanswered.
So what do I take from the whole show? Never forget that white supremacists and other types of racists will ‘never be happy until we are gone’ is a fair comment – I won’t be forgetting that in a hurry.
Alex has been around the comedy circuit for over six years and is perhaps on the cusp of greatness. Most comedians I’ve interviewed age 40 and over cite Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor and Louis CK (steeped in controversy right now) as some of the greats. Let’s just watch this space in the year 2028.
review by Susie Daniels
Alex Edelman’s Just For Us show is on at The Pleasance at the Edinburgh Fringe until Sunday August 26th