Interview: Rarely Asked Questions – Alex Edelman: Page 2 of 2

Alex Edelman

6. What do your parents think of your job?

They’re thrilled that I’ve found something to do as a profession that I love doing and they’re thrilled that it’s going well. A lot of parents, I think, live vicariously through their children, but that can really be tough in the arts obviously.

Although, you know, I think it’s also kind of neat for parents to be like, “Hey, what does your kid do? Accountant? Nice. My kid is on tour in Australia.” Plays well at synagogue.

 

7. What’s the worst thing about being a comedian?

Pfft. Take your pick from the following: The constant travel. The amount of mental dams and locks you need to build to preserve yourself artistically. In weaker moments, self-doubt, I guess?

 

8. I think you are very good at what you do (that’s why I’m asking these questions). What do you think of you?

Hm. I think I’m a watchable, competent comedian. Which people who don’t know comedy might not appreciate, but is an exceptionally difficult thing to become. 

My strong spot is “wiseacre comments” jokes so I try to only indulge that instinct sparingly. I think I’ve become a more engaging storyteller and a better physical comic. I think I’m starting to enjoy doing characters more within jokes. I think my sense of structure has gotten better. 

The point of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is where I am now – and I honestly believe this – is to get better at your weak spots. So I’ve been working on physical stuff, the show is way more personal and stuff. This is a better show than the last one. I know that for a fact. So I’m very pleased with it.

 

9. How much do you earn and how much would you like to earn?

Fuck off. Nunya bidness. 

Kidding. 

This will seem insane, but I want to provide an actual figure here, but it’s hard to, because I honestly don’t know. 

Isn’t that crazy? Stuff gets paid to agents and managers or in cash and then gets funnelled into a bank account. I use the bank account and the cash to pay for things. 

Put it this way, I’m financially secure enough to know that there’s some money in the bank account, but not secure enough that the money I spend is insignificant.

I’d love to make enough money that when I eventually have a family or whatever, other parents or couples or whatever can come over and my home (which I will own) is nice enough to pass as the home of someone who has a good job. Isn’t that stupid? I know it’s stupid, but whatever.

As it is, I’m doing well at the moment, I think.

 

10. How important is luck in terms of career success – have you had lucky breaks?

It’s SO important. Besides the hard work you need to take advantage of those lucky breaks, they’re the most important thing. I’ve had a lot of lucky breaks, but, if you were to look at a bio or a resume or whatever, none of them are where you’d think they are. It’s all been people-based. In New York and Boston, my lucky breaks came in the form of help from supportive comics like Tony V and Gary Gulman and Elon Gold. It was a boss of mine, a guy named Larry Lucchino, encouraging me to travel as much as possible and me actually listening to him.

In the UK, it wasn’t winning the Best Newcomer Award – although that was very lucky – my lucky break here came when folks like Josie Long and Robin Ince had me on their comedy nights and told me I could do “whatever I wanted.” It’s never a ‘thing,’ I guess, it’s always a person. Someone you respect telling you they have belief in you. 

I think that’s the career success. If you’re an artist, you need lucky breaks in your personal life so you can exist without constant fear. Meeting my girlfriend, meeting my friends Ross and Matty, meeting peers like Alfie Brown and Rhys James and Dan Schreiber have all been lucky breaks.

 

11. Alan Davies has said that comedians fall into two categories - golfers and self-harmers. The former just get on with life, the latter are tortured artists. Which are you – or do you think you fit into a third category?

I don’t like golf. But I don’t self-flagellate, but I get what he means. Sometimes I’m a golfer who feels lucky to be here and sometimes I’m a self-harmer wishing I were doing anything else. 

So both.

I’d say that most of the time I’m a happy fisherman and I’ll let anyone who feels like working that out work it out.

 

12. Who is your favourite person ever and why - not including family or friends or other comedians?

There was a guy I knew a little who just passed away – although I was at Toomler Comedy Club in Amsterdam when he died, so I just completely missed it – named Jay Emmett. 

 

Jay was one-hundred percent my favorite person. 

 

I think I learned more about being funny from him than anyone else. Jay wasn’t a comic, he was a music executive and a film executive and a licensing and sports marketing genius and he was already an older man when I met him at Fenway Park in Boston, but he was effortlessly hilarious and folks just fucking loved him. He’s one of the only people I’d ever describe as hilarious. 

 

Once, I sat next to him at Yankee Stadium and he spent the whole ballgame flirting outrageously with this young woman next to him. It was so funny and fun. He was so funny and fun. Fuck. And he was in his mid-80s when he died and still I think he surely went to soon. What a shame.

 

He had this bass-y chuckle of a laugh and it was just the most wonderful thing to hear. I’m viciously sad he’s passed away. Favorite person, full stop. And he had a million stories and if you could get them out of him, the little details would make your eyes would just goggle. I wish I’d had the chance to spend even more time with him.

 

13. Do you keep your drawers tidy?

This question is too personal and it offends me.

 

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