Alex Edelman’s full name is David Yosef Shimon Ben Illouz Haleivi Alexander Edelman. Which means that a meeting of Nazis probably isn’t the place for him. But that doesn’t stop him from going, an experience he describes in his latest hour of comedy, Just For Us. From the pitch, that doesn’t sound like Alex, whose bits are usually about Hebrew, airports and living in London rather than politics and vicious anti-semites. But this isn’t a typical hour for Alex, and while I howled with laughter, his set is designed to do so much more.
Alex Edelman is no longer just another up-and-comer. He’s the bar everyone should be reaching for.
The first thing to say about Alex’s style is that his shows are impeccably structured. His ability to flow between his jokes, which stick out like spokes on a wheel around the central story, makes the show feel unified, and gives each story weight, beyond just the humour. He has an ability to spend enough time on each individual element of his jokes that their characters stick in your mind, such that you remember the name of the Nazi Alex flirted with, or the dumb nickname he gave his brother at a certain time, so that when he brings them up again, he doesn’t need to explain what’s happening. Things are cyclical in Alex’s writing. Parts from the opening get referenced in the closing, you hear the same stupid joke a few times, but each time has a different tone to it and a different element that makes it feel unique each time.
But that isn’t what brings Alex’s show to five stars. No, it's all about the last five minutes of the show. Right before he sends the audience home happy, Alex confronts the people in the seats in front of him. And I won’t spoil what he says, because it’s a moment so good I don’t want to ruin it, but in that moment you can see pain, unhappiness and so much more, which doesn’t read like a character at all. Comedians build up a very particular wall of artifice for their art, and it’s rare to tear them down, but Alex does. His ability to sell a very particular feeling, with his facial expressions and an ability to still make people laugh when he’s basically confessing that he hates them is astounding. It’s those five minutes following what is basically a perfect stand up set before it that prove Alex Edelman is no longer just another up-and-comer. He’s the bar everyone should be reaching for.