20 Aug Just For Us
Alex Edelman’s solo show Just For Us is a delightfully fun tour-de-force despite the premise of its subject matter.
The gifted and unabashed Jewish comedian, considering an invitation from an unexpected tweet, takes a high risk chance by attending a meeting of white supremacists in a Queens, NY neighborhood (ironically just down the street from one of the most ethnically diverse areas of the city). And what ensues is full of suspense, though in a comically volatile way.
The charm and heart of this show lies in Mr. Edelman’s ability to weave tangential stories into the narrative so that the audience is given a comprehensive glimpse of his life from youth through adulthood, and the forces that shaped the man and comic he would become. All of which leads to the pivotal moment of his decision to attend that fateful meeting.
One of the best stories he regales is the year his staunchly religious family celebrated Christmas as an act of charity and compassion for a beloved Catholic family friend who is left alone due to family deaths. In one of the funnier exchanges he recounts “my mother said ‘we’re celebrating Christmas this year’; my father said ‘Cheryl we are NOT celebrating Christmas!’ and my mother restated ‘we are too celebrating Christmas!’ so my parents compromised…and we celebrated Christmas.”
While scared in his heart of meeting a group of potentially dangerous people, he stealthily keeps an inner sense of humor with the incongruity of the situation. He diligently works to “pass” as a non-Jew who is interested in the activities of a group determined to air their grievances amongst each in what becomes an echo chamber. They discuss their power shrinking away, being at odds with their perceived notions and general disenfranchisement, wondering what happened to their country and, by extension, the world.
Toward the evening’s end, Mr. Edelman begins to feel a sense of empathy for the group surrounding him and sees some contradictions in their humanity that moves him in an unforeseen direction. I won’t reveal the climactic moment but will say suspicion begins a slow invasion through one particular attendee.
The show is dynamic, exciting, enlightening and has a freshness that comes from an improvised quality, all buoyed by a comedian in full command of his material and abilities with superb storytelling. The piece is absolutely outstanding.
And that makes Just For Us a gift for ALL of us.