Menier Chocolate Factory (venue)
19 January 2023 (released)
22 January 2023
Comedians shouldn’t be political. At least that's what Alex Edelmen previously thought before an onslaught of anti semitic online abuse provoked him to reconsider his duty as a comic. The result is a monologue about his undercover encounter with neo nazis which is a laugh out loud exploration of Jewishness, racism, and jigsaw puzzles.
Near the beginning of the performance, Alex explains how he used to wish he was white, to which there are puzzled laughs in the audience, isn’t the man in front of us white? However throughout the performance Alex dismantles the idea of whiteness, articulating the confusing reality of experiencing privilege alongside antisemitism with great clarity. This leaves the audience with new invaluable insight into what it means to be Jewish in 2023.
Importantly, ‘Just for Us’ deep themes don’t compromise its hilarity. Edelmen seamlessly weaves in hilarious anecdotes about his family life, which often have roots in his need to straddle his American and religious identities. A tale about a kosher Christmas his mother put on for her lonely friend captures this duality perfectly. He also makes room for plenty of ‘dumb’ jokes, as he modestly puts them, from a sign language learning Gorilla to Prince Harry snorting cocaine through a rolled up picture of his nan.
At the center of the show is the spine tingling story of when Edelmen crashed a white nationalist meet up in Queens. He paints the characters he meets with such precision and humor that the viewer feels they are intruding on the meeting themselves. We meet a range of colorful characters, from a jigsaw obsessed elderly lady to potential romantic interest Chelsea, who Alex quips would make an unlikely match fit for a romantic comedy. Remarkably, Alex tells the story with a level of empathy that makes us question if these individuals are evil, or poor radicalized and deeply unhappy souls.
Whichever conclusion you come to, this performance is an essential exploration of racism which will leave you with a lingering perspective as well as an aching belly. ‘Just for Us’ is a triumph that shows that a comedian can, and should, dabble in politics.
Catch it at the Menier chocolate factory until the 26th of February, buy tickets below.