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‘Just For Us’ Broadway Review: Why Jewish Comic Alex Edelman Infiltrated a Group of New York City Nazis

A comic goes undercover with bigots. You’ll want to hear how it went.

Alex Edelman, Just For Us
Image Source: Alex Edelman @ Instagram

Alex Edelman has carved out a notable reputation in the world of comedy, delighting audiences with his sold-out shows and captivating late-night performances. With his Broadway debut, Just For Us, opening at the Hudson Theatre tonight and running until August 19, Edelman proves that he can hold his own on the theatrical stage with a compelling story and his sheer storytelling prowess.

Just For Us may seem unconventional for a Broadway production, lacking the visual and special-effects extravaganzas typically associated with the medium. However, the show thrives on Edelman’s ability to captivate the audience through his storytelling bravado, skillful direction by the late Adam Brace, and the strength of the captivating tale he shares.

In Just For Us, Edelman recounts a remarkable story that he assures the audience is true. As a Jewish comedian, raised in the Orthodox tradition and still observant, he finds himself attending a small White Supremacist neo-Nazi gathering in a Queens apartment. The reasons for his presence and his intentions become the crux of the show. Essentially, he was mistakenly invited and decides to venture to Queens, either as a joke, out of curiosity, or fueled by the egotistical belief that his amiable personality and humor could win over a few hearts and minds.

Unspoken but undoubtedly known to Edelman is the fact that this meeting would provide a fantastic story and rich material for his stand-up routine. And it does not disappoint. What begins as a lighthearted adventure quickly takes a dark turn. However, Edelman maintains a humorous perspective throughout, finding comedy in unexpected places, from the seemingly grumpy elderly lady playing jigsaw puzzles at the door to his misguided hope for a romantic encounter with an attractive young woman present at the gathering.

As a natural storyteller, Edelman skillfully uses this improbable anecdote as a meandering path, taking detours through his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. A standout moment is when he delves into his family’s sole attempt at celebrating Christmas. He also explores his ongoing struggles with his Jewish identity, his understanding of being white (despite the antisemitic claims of those in Queens), and the boundaries of empathy, questioning whether it has limits and if so, what they are.

Edelman, a master of his craft, has honed his material to perfection, delivering it with conversational eloquence. He fearlessly approaches the edge of the abyss, peering in, and emerges with jokes that neither trivialize nor romanticize what he has witnessed. Grounded in his Jewish upbringing, empathy is a core value that he wrestles to uphold, even in the face of overwhelming racism and antisemitism. This internal struggle provides Edelman with a profound intellectual conundrum, a thought-provoking and humorous exploration of the heart that elevates his show to the Broadway stage.

Lastly, it is important to note that Adam Brace, Edelman’s director and longtime collaborator, tragically passed away last month at the age of 43 after a brief illness. Just For Us would have marked his Broadway debut, making it a poignant and loving tribute to his talent and dedication.

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