Alex Edelman on Twitter, neo-Nazis and returning to Edinburgh after three years
- Brian Donaldson
- 1 August 2018
This article is from 2018
The 2014 Best Newcomer winner is back with his third and most personal hour of stand-up yet
Millennial comedian Alex Edelman has drifted out of the comfort zone with his third Fringe hour. Brian Donaldson hears from this US stand-up about the end of an era
In our 'Edinburgh' arrogance, we sometimes assume that if a comedian who's made their mark at the Fringe is suddenly incognito for a couple of Augusts, well, they must be doing nothing with their lives. Such a conclusion is way wide of the mark when it comes to Alex Edelman who tore up the Fringe in 2014 with his Best Newcomer-winning show Millennial and a year later with Everything Handed to You.
In fact, during that period the 29-year-old Bostonian was part of the writing team on US sitcom The Great Indoors which starred Stephen Fry and Joel McHale ('If Aaron Sorkin was writing the show you'd think that it wasn't very good, but for me, it was the best thing ever'), supported Beck, performed stand-up on Conan, and played some gigs in Berlin and Moscow with Eddie Izzard: 'this isn't meant to sound shitty, but [Moscow] was like performing on another planet: the city was so dense, concrete and Soviet.' And, of course, he's been working on his third assault upon the Fringe which has resulted in Just for Us. This new hour (which received strong reviews at the Melbourne Comedy Festival in April) ostensibly revolves around the story of him dropping in on a meeting of neo-Nazis in New York, having been appalled at the rise in anti-Semitic abuse on Twitter. '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 just wanted to see the worst the world has to offer without me having to leave Manhattan.'
Though he describes himself as more of a 'Jon Ronson boy', inevitable comparisons have been made with this show and the affable door-stepping documentary work of Louis Theroux. All of my shows have been a little journalisty,' states Edelman. 'My first show was almost entirely a reportage of the different types of millennials I was meeting, and the second one was about my brothers and religious identity. Yet this show is weirdly my most personal show so far.'
With Edelman having forged his initial reputation with a show about those in their 20s, it must feel slightly odd and vaguely nostalgic that he'll soon leave that decade to enter his 30s. 'I had all of the things that people in their 20s should experience: I've had the most tremendous fortune to be able to travel and meet wonderful people. I got to spend four summers just BSing with really fun comedians and going to Australia. I'm sad to see it's almost over, but I've found myself evolving into a different kind of person.'
That person is now about to take another step in his Edinburgh life with a heavily-anticipated show which he'll perform in the Pleasance Courtyard's iconic Cabaret Bar. The Fringe of 2018 should only add to the good feelings he has towards the Scottish capital. 'I won't use the word "career", but Edinburgh gave me the opportunity to do this as a living, and I do think of my life in some ways as marked out by the festival, with all those 2am crepes and ciders. I've noticed that a lot of those skills I picked up over the last two years writing on a sitcom are coming to bear on my Edinburgh preparations: my understanding of story, motivation and character is much more bedded in. This is the first Edinburgh show that I'm excited about rather than petrified of.'
Alex Edelman: Just for Us, Pleasance Courtyard, 4–26 Aug, 8pm, £10–£14. Previews 1–3 Aug, £6.