Alex Edelman: Everything Handed to You

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 12 Aug 2015

Cultural identity is a universally relatable subject, and it's one that Alex Edelman handles with aplomb. This Jewish Bostonian, who lives in New York and has a penchant for British sensibility, has crafted a witty examination of upbringing, sibling rivalry and man's innate need to belong.

On the surface it perhaps doesn't aspire to much; making jokes about how one's roots shape the person they become is hardly uncharted comedic ground. Edelman still manages to mine new nuggets of wisdom from this laboured notion, though, as he bristles with zinging punchlines and well-told anecdotes. His delivery is nonchalant, drawling even, but that only adds to his persona of relaxed raconteur.

It's loosely structured around one particularly formative family experience, which becomes a useful framing device for the introduction of the recurring topic: his relationship with his two brothers. Often these segments feel like an outlandish betrayal of the realism to which the rest of the show is tied, with his family characterised as slightly too larger-than-life to suspend disbelief. The material about his Jewish childhood is also a little hackneyed, with tales of summer camp ("the good kind of Jewish camp", he assures us) resembling something even Woody Allen would cut from his film for being a bit too clichéd. 

It remains a poised hour of standup that strikes a chord with our natural insecurities surrounding identity. Edelman's is a conflation of orthodox religion and transatlantic uncertainty, and he harnesses all this to produce a playful insight into how our heritage defines us.