Live Review: Alex Edelman, Soho Theatre

You’ve got to have an angle when you do a full length Edinburgh Fringe show. Well, it’s maybe not compulsory but when putting together a string of stories it can help to stitch the narrative together and excite the judges. Alex Edelman’s 2015 show, which has finally transferred to London, has an angle but the young Bostonian is so skilful this would be a hugely enjoyable set even without one.

Everything Handed To You is the sequel to the show that won him Foster’s Best Newcomer Award. A while ago the much-travelled comic was meeting his two brothers at Dallas Airport which has a lot of human traffic but few plug sockets. Edelman had an eight-socket adaptor, making him very popular. But his younger brother insisted that strangers could only plug in their phone chargers if they told them something about themselves. This feels likes a great hook for a novel or a film. A modern update of 1001 Nights or Tales From The Crypt. I might borrow it one day if nobody else gets there first.

As for Edelman, he doesn't actually use this narrative advice as much as he could. It generates few good lines and some great ones, but he doesn’t really need it. He’s got his own tales to tell and he tells them so well you are totally captivated for the hour.

His subject matter goes to all sorts of places. There’s a fresh take on the bottomless comedy goldmine that is Greggs. There’s a chilling anecdote about anti-semitism at a gig in Estonia. And on a lighter note there’s a very sharp routine about being accused of being autistic in which Edelman is always one step ahead of his audience.

There are some places that he doesn’t go. He touches on being brought up as an orthodox Jew and studying in Israel but steers clear of Zionism (except for one zinger which he can’t resist). Interestingly events have overtaken one joke in the version I saw last summer. Unless I’m majorly mistaken I thought there was a routine about the song Happy Birthday when I first saw this. Maybe he has dropped it because the rights to the song have changed since then, scuppering the gag.

If the show has a theme it is about travelling and belonging. Edelman's job takes him around the world and away from his roots, but he clearly has huge affection for his family even if they are all very different from him. His twin brother, AJ, for instance, is a bodybuilder. As for Alex, he will have to make do with a great body of comedy work.

Until May 25. Tickets here.


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