Alex Edelman: Everything Handed To You | Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Alex Edelman: Everything Handed To You

Melbourne comedy festival review by Steve Bennett

Ever notice that airports rarely have enough power sockets? There’s an idea strong enough to sustain an hour of stand-up, right?

Well, it is if you are Alex Edelman. Here this overthinking  Bostonian recalls a rendezvous with his two brothers in Dallas Fort Worth, where they became gatekeepers to the precious outlets. ‘You can recharge if you tell us something about yourself,’ teenage sibling Austin bargains with the strangers, his curiosity opening up snapshots into the lives of strangers, and providing the surprising payoff to the hour.

Moreover, the reunion opens a pathway for Edelman to share tales of his own family – including twin brother AJ, a bodybuilder whose commitment to pumping iron isn’t even the most zealous part of his life – his very orthodox Jewish upbringing, and a few lighter observational morsels besides.

If you seek a theme you’d say it was about the identities your background confers on you, and that society expects of you – although the motif is carried lightly. However, it’s of special concern now that Edelman, very much in the archetypal mould of neurotic American Jew, is a more global citizen since making the bold leap of giving up his New York apartment to travel the world as a road comic. He’s now often embarrassed by his fellow Yanks when abroad, as revealed in a delightful opening anecdote, while a chillingly antisemitic heckle in Eastern Europe shows that some prejudices are hard to shake off.

Every story is a precision-engineered Rolls-Royce of a routine, perfectly timed and constructed, each morsel of information released just at the right moment to keep the direction subtly changing, or priming the audience for a punchline down the line. Edelman, very obviously a keen student of the art of comedy, could, in turn, be used as a textbook example of construction and timing, making him a mesmerising raconteur.

Edelman is a comedian who delivers from the head, not the heart – you understand why his intensity of thought gets him confused for someone with autism – but Everything Handed To You is still a show rich with affection, particularly of the fraternal kind, as well as being an engrossing hour of intelligent storytelling. 

Review date: 13 Apr 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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