Just For Us
HEAR FROM THE ARTIST
A NOTE FROM ALEX EDELMAN
Hey you. Yes, you. Thanks for coming to this.
I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it. I’m a Boston kid - as you’re about to find out - and this is really lovely for me. Thanks to Jenny and everyone at WTF for making this happen.
OK. A little about “JUST FOR US.” I started writing it in 2018. It’s based on stuff that happened in 1995, 1996, 2012-2013, 2021 and, most notably, on a Tuesday night in the winter of 2017.
It incubated at Melbourne Comedy Festival in Australia, the Edinburgh Fringe in Scotland, and at the Soho Theatre in London. Those will sound like just festivals and places but they represent warm audiences, wonderful staffs, well-made cappuccinos and administrators who took shots on a show that was not yet an off-Broadway offering.
One of my first shows back after a long COVID-break was at MASS MoCA in August of 2021. Instead of a typical stand-up set, I tried a rough version of this and tried to steal a valuable Anish Kapoor piece. Thank G-d for forgiving audiences and lazy security guards.
This is a solo show but it doesn’t, spiritually, belong to me only. My director Adam Brace - a rugby-loving genius equal parts gentle and gruff - and unquestioned master of the comedy-theater blend, Mike Birbiglia, have steered me in the correct directions. I also owe gratitude to literally dozens of comics and friends for their encouragement and thoughts.
I’m proud of this show. I hope you enjoy it. Thank you again for being here. Come say hi after.
BETWEEN THE LINES
WTF’s Artistic Associate Lianna Rada-Hung sat down with Alex Edelman to discuss his journey into comedy.
LRH: Of all the possible career fields, what drew you to comedy?
AE: I wanted a job that would let me go to different places and see different things. And I wanted to commercialize my ADHD, so that was the best way to do it. It was just a hobby that got out of hand, honestly. It was something I started in college and never quit. I’m not a baseball executive, or an astronaut, or a racecar driver but comedy is the childhood dream that stuck.
LRH: Was your family supportive of you being a comedian?
AE: My family was very supportive immediately—super supportive, super pleased that I do a job that I enjoy. That’s the Jewish immigrant experience, right? Your grandparents work very hard in an extremely taxing job so that their kids can become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. And then their kids become DJs and ruin everything. This is just part of that cycle of waste that surely makes my European ancestors spin in their graves.
LRH: Speaking of your Jewish upbringing, who were the first Jewish comics you were inspired by?
AE: Mel Brooks, Gary Gulman, Stephen Fry, Elon Gold, Modi, Joan Rivers, they were all big for me. And there were novelists and writers, as well:Nathan Englander, Darin Strauss, Etgar Keret, Jonathan Safran Foer, Saul Bellow. I think a lot of my comedy voice comes from people like them. Oh! And essayists. Sloane Crosley and Nora Ephron and folks like that. And Seinfeld, of course.
LRH: What we love about Just For Us is how it’s not just a stand-up show, it fits within the genre of well-structured comedic storytelling. How did you settle into this type of comedy performance?
AE: There’s a theatrical element to this show. The stand-up comedy that I love from people like Hannah Gatsby and Mike Birbiglia sort of blurs the line. So I think of it as a comedy solo show because I love comedy. Comedy is something that has given me this really fun day-to-day life and a ton of laughs, but it has become a little bit devalued as a label and that’s comedy’s own fault. I think stand-up consumers can sometimes have a rigid view about what stand-up is and it’s a little restrictive. And that is such a shame because there are really bold stand-up comics who do really gorgeous work.