Edinburgh Review: Alex Edelman

Alex Edelman

Pleasance Courtyard

****

Alex Edelman asked me if I could give him one star so that he could leave Edinburgh with the full range of stars on his reviews. Sadly I’m going to have to disappoint him and give him four stars. Edelman’s Edinburgh debut is as finely-tuned as they come and he was a deserved winner of the Foster’s Best Newcomer Award on Saturday.

Millennial is the 25-year-old American comedian’s exploration of his generation’s position in the world. If the baby boomers had it good, his peers are having it bad. Edelman himself left New York University saddled with nearly $200,000 worth of debt. He was told he was unique at NYU, but graduated in Yankee Stadium with thousands of other students. He tried to be relaxed about his predicament but a picture of him looking anxious ended up going viral.

This is not a particularly heavy, serious show though, despite an undertow of existential gloom. Edelman, who in his rock and roll jacket and furrowed brow looks like he could sing in a Strokes tribute band in his spare time, mentions that he is an orthodox Jew, but apart from a few brief asides mostly steers clear of politics (though playing the tiny Pleasance venue called the Attic, he does do a nice Anne Frank quip, calling himself "the Jew in the Attic"). He would rather talk about his own playful, provocative family tradition of coming out as gay every Thanksgiving, even though he isn’t gay. He also has a great routine about meeting heroes, recalling a childhood encounter with Neil Armstrong that made him rather suspicious of icons.

His sequence of stories, also including tales about a cupcake shop confrontation and a woman with a 9/11 tattoo, is neatly strung together and occasionally broken up with the aid of photographic evidence. There is an impressive smoothness here as he glides from one anecdote to the next, linking back while moving forward. It is easy to see why Edelman won Best Newcomer despite being up against strong competition. He has been gigging in the UK for the last few months and now plans to divide his time between the UK and America. I should imagine he’s going to be in demand on both sides of the Atlantic. 

 

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