Brookline-raised comedian’s new one-man show retraces growing up orthodox in Greater Boston
In the special he’s performing at the BCA this month the Emerson Colonial Theatre in May before heading to Broadway’s Hudson Theatre in New York, comedian Alex Edelman makes an attempt to better understand who he is, and specifically how growing up in an orthodox Jewish family in Brookline formed who he is as a person. In order to do that, his show journeys to a place he never thought he’d be: a neo-Nazi rally where, against his better judgment, he finds affection in an unexpected place.
But first, some background …
Born and raised in Brookline, a teenage Edelman rode his bike to open mics in Boston.
“I cut my teeth at the music open mic at Roggie’s pizzeria bombing my little teenage ass off every Tuesday for two-and-a-half years,” he said on my podcast, So, What Do You Really Do? back in 2020. Moving forward, as a young adult comedian, he won awards for writing and for his one-man shows, with accolades including the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer, making him the first American to do so in over two-decades.
His newest one man show, Just for Us, tells the story of him attempting to better understand himself, retracing his coming of age in a strict Jewish family in Brookline, and pondering why his Judaism means so much to other people. Specifically, Edelman’s journey brings him to a place he never thought he would be: a neo-Nazi rally. All against his better judgment. The events of the night are broken up with hilarious tangents that shed light on his upbringing, complete with characterizations of family, friends, and rabbis who helped form his worldview.
Opening the show by comparing himself to the late Robin Williams would, to some, be a bit egotistical. But don’t worry, it’s a self-realization that he will never have the impact on interspecies relations, let alone his fellow New Yorkers, that the Mrs. Doubtfire star did. Or will he? Not to spoil the show, because you should see it.
From there, the events depicted take place throughout key moments in his life, including one wintry 2017 evening in Queens. The performance is full self awareness, questions, and realizations from the past that shape a person as an adult. It’s a tribute to the heroes in Edelman’s past, the loved ones who made him who he is today, and what motivates him to stand up to the people who hate him for reasons no one can figure out.
“It’s surreal and fantastic to be doing this so close to where I started doing standup,” he said about those days telling jokes as a child amongst more mature and experienced colleagues. As for returning to where it all began before his run on Broadway, Edelman said, “It’s the most exciting way to come back home.”
Catch Alex Edelman’s Just For Us at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA through April 23 and its final performance Saturday, May 20 at the Emerson Colonial Theatre. His show will move to Broadway’s Hudson Theatre for a limited engagement this summer, beginning June 22 and closing August 19. Tickets to all his performances are on sale now.
Deadair Dennis Maler is a comedian, actor, writer, & podcaster who has been heard on radio stations throughout the country including SiriusXM, DC101, The Party Playhousewith Jackson Blue and more. He has been featured on comedy festivals throughout the country, founded BostonComedyShows.com, is the Comedy Editor for DigBoston, and hosts the iTunes podcast So What Do You Really Do? He’s funny, loud, abrasively social, and allergy free since 1981.