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Are you able to imagine it? Alex Edelman laughs at #whiteness at Woolly.


He bounds onto the bare stage with eager-to-please restlessness like a pet let loose for a romp, and for the subsequent 90 minutes — in contrast to many a standup comedian — he by no means stands nonetheless, he by no means stops shifting, he roams throughout. He unapologetically owns the spontaneity and power in his successful animation; he refers to himself as “professionally charming” and “a part of a era of overmedicated ADHD kids.” He’s arguably adorkable. All of the whereas he’s tremendous attuned to each audible response from the viewers, and he nearly by no means stops cracking us up.

I say nearly as a result of this comic’s act has a severe purpose. Alex Edelman, born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish household, has come to city to ship up antisemitic white supremacists. That’s his schtick. And he’s so sly about it you’ll double over in laughter earlier than it hits you.

Alex Edelman. Images by Teresa Castracane.

Edelman’s solo present Only for Us, now taking part in by means of December 23, 2022, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, well directed by Adam Brace, follows on successive sold-out runs in New York Metropolis. To his opening night time viewers, his hilarity appeared exhilarating. He joked about telling “dumb and small” jokes. He joked in regards to the completely different sorts of white individuals in Boston, the place he’s from (trace: WASPs are on high). He joked about how the empty four-word phrase “Are you able to imagine it?” may be replied meaningfully to absolutely anything.

Constructing on his theme, Edelman slips in sharp observations, just like the distinction between how somebody as soon as a Christian may be lapsed and now not thought of Christian however a Jew even when a nonbeliever can by no means not be a Jew. (Edelman generously makes sure that each culturally particular expression he makes use of is translated for non-Jews.)

Normally, he tells loosely associated anecdotes, many about his mom, father, and brother. Among the many most vivid was his description of the time his Jewish household made Christmas —  for a non-Jewish girl who would in any other case have been on their own. The tree they embellished was topped with a teddy bear holding a dreidel. The awkward life lesson for the 2 sons was ostensibly empathy.

Empathy proves to be the elusive throughline of Edelman’s fascinating storytelling, the main arc of which is his go to to a gathering of antisemitic white nationalists in Brooklyn. The setup entails some trolling on Twitter that ends in his receipt of a tweeted invitation to a gathering the place members may speak about “hashtag whiteness.”  As a Jew who typically passes for white, Edelman was curious. He reveals up on the assembly, joins within the dialog, flirts with a younger girl, regales the group with techspertise, and isn’t found. Till he’s.

Alex Edelman. Picture by Teresa Castracane.

To say extra would steal the enjoyable and thunder, however at a degree, Edelman asks a profound query: “To who will we owe our empathy?” In context, he seems to be asking: Does he owe empathy to those individuals he meets who in the event that they know who he was would hate him with the intention to be white?

Put-down humor — whether or not about ethnicity, sexuality, gender expression, the record goes on — has been the inventory in commerce of many an acclaimed comic, and I take it as a superb signal that a few of those that depend on it are getting public blowback. (Want I identify names?) What I discovered refreshing about Alex Edelman’s Only for Us is that he doesn’t go there, he doesn’t put down. Even when recalling being in a room full of individuals whose self-concept will depend on denying and derogating and disparaging his, he sketches for us portraits of personalities which can be fastidiously noticed, not merciless.

Finally Edelman’s present sheds an essential mild on whiteness. “A social assemble,” he calls it at one level, considerably fliply. However in all seriousness, he shares with us laughter to assist us see by means of it.

Operating Time: Roughly 90 minutes, with no intermission.

Only for Us performs by means of December 23, 2022, at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Firm, 641 D Road NW, Washington, DC, with performances on choose dates (see calendar for efficiency schedule). Tickets (beginning at $34, with reductions obtainable for these 30 and below, navy, educators, and extra) may be bought on-line, by cellphone at (202) 393-3939, or through electronic mail at tickets@woollymammoth.web.

The playbill for Only for Us is on-line right here.
Details about Accessibility Performances is right here.

COVID Security: Masks have to be worn always whereas within the constructing when not actively consuming or consuming. Study extra about Woolly Mammoth’s well being and security protocols at woollymammoth.web/about-us/security/.

Only for Us
By and starring Alex Edelman

Lighting Design: Colin Ok. Payments
Director: Adam Brace
Manufacturing Supervisor: Rachael Danielle Albert

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