Comedy review: Alex Edelman: Everything Handed to You

Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Alex Edelman: Everything Handed to You, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.


Edinburgh and the UK have been good for Alex Edelman, but equally, the young Bostonian has been a breath of fresh air for the festival. Retaining the carefully honed, polished delivery symptomatic of his formative stand-up years in New York, he’s imbibed the Fringe’s appetite for well-structured, personal hours with emotional undertow, marrying the two for a slick but soulful performance. All of which is a convoluted way of suggesting that this is an undemanding, very funny show that you’d recommend to anyone with a sense of humour and wry appreciation of family.

Although Edelman opens with some amusing fish-out-of-water material, about his efforts to avoid other Americans in this country and to watch Blue Peter in a pub, this is a far less wide-ranging affair than Millennial, his 2014 Edinburgh Comedy Award-winning best-newcomer show. Instead, the principal focus is on his relationship with his brothers, AJ, his twin and a bodybuilder, and Austin, 13 years their junior. Due to his gigging schedule, they rarely get to see each other. So a rendezvous is arranged for a terminal at Dallas Airport, where a deficit of electrical sockets and Edelman’s foresight in packing a multi-way adaptor ensures that the siblings get absolutely no catch-up, with people constantly interrupting to request to charge their phones. Thanks to Austin’s curiosity, these encounters become snapshots of individual lives, culminating in a revelatory disclosure that takes everyone by surprise. Around this core tale, which unfolds with exquisite pacing, Edelman erects supporting scaffolding about his identity – raised a devout but flexible orthodox Jew, participating in Christmas out of solidarity with a bereaved family friend; experiencing the dubious thrill of anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe; contesting the idea he’s autistic by digging himself in deeper. Fraternally affectionate, presented with affective honesty and cultural intelligence, it’s a magnetic story.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings

Published in The Scotsman on 27 August 2015

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