STAND-UP ALEX EDELMAN The Stand, Edinburgh, Sun 1 Mar; The Stand, Glasgow, Sun 15 Mar
Plenty has happened to Alex Edelman since he was last on Scottish shores storming the 2018 Fringe with his usual eloquent and intelligent analysis on contemporary mores. He’s been working on the third series of Radio 4’s Peer Group, with episode one due up on 5 February as it explores what it means to be ‘cool’. Meanwhile, he made another appearance on Conan last October arguing that Robin Williams is clearly the best comic who ever lived given that a sign-language gorilla called Coco was proven to be a big fan: ‘my comedy barely works if you’re not a Jew from New York City: Robin Williams crossed the species barrier,’ Edelman opined.
That 2018 hour was Just for Us, his third full stand-
up affair after the Edinburgh Best Newcomer-winning Millennial and its equally excellent follow-up, Everything Handed to You. This show was triggered by anti-Semitic hate on social media in 2018, and depressingly it’s no less pertinent in 2020. ‘Everyone gets abuse online but I find myself being disproportionately affected by stuff that makes me think that the Nazis are back, and that maybe there’s some real sinister thing going on that I’m not quite aware of. Twitter really was a big impetus for this show, but I also wanted to see the worst the world has to offer without me having to leave Manhattan.’ The reviews of Just for Us (at its core it’s about him
infiltrating some NYC neo-Nazis in their own backyard) were golden, and an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination deservedly ensued. ‘All of my shows have been a little journalisty,’ he states. ‘My first one was almost entirely a reportage of the different types of millennials I was meeting, and the second was about my brothers and religious identity. Yet this show is weirdly my most personal so far.’ (Brian Donaldson)
COMEDY | PREVIEWS
LOCAL LAUGHS SEZAR ALKASSAB ANOTHER UP-AND-COMER HAS A GO AT OUR Q&A
What’s the one thing you remember about your very first stand-up gig? I was 19, it was a five-minute spot at an open-mic night in London in front of 90 people. My legs were shaking. Luckily I was wearing quite loose jeans so I don’t think anyone noticed. I do remember when I sat back down my knees were bobbing up and down uncontrollably, with the MC, promoter and other comedians giving me praise. It was one of the most adrenaline-filled experiences I have ever felt. You’re curating your own ‘legends of comedy’ line-up: who are the bill’s top three acts? Patrice O’Neal, the greatest comedian of all time, Dave Chappelle who is the greatest living comedian, and Eddie Murphy who had a legendary career in comedy. I think he was 22 and 25 when he performed Delirious and Raw respectively. He went on to focus on acting, but those specials still hold up.
Where do you draw the line when it comes to ‘offensive comedy’? Everything offends someone somewhere, but that doesn’t mean everything is offensive. Currently, we’re in this ‘has PC gone mad?’ era and I think comedians should be able to perform however they wish. But I also think audiences have a right to be offended if a comic is giving off a bigoted vibe.
What’s the best piece of What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received advice you’ve received from another comedian from another comedian so far? Keep going, it’s as simple as that. There have definitely been stages have definitely been stages where I could have easily just stopped doing it, but just by the fact I kept going and going, I always going and going, I always got better and progressed got better and progressed further. ■ Dram!, Glasgow, Mon 16 Mar; see much more of this q&a at list.co.uk/ comedy
62 THE LIST 1 Feb–31 Mar 2020