In need of some laughs? ‘Just For Us’ brings the fun at the Cherry Lane Theatre

The Village audience was hardy having braved wind and bitter cold and plowed mounds of snow during Saturday’s nor’easter.  Once in the theater, they were invited to move forward, filling a little more than half of Cherry Lane Theatre to catch comedian Alex Edelman’s one-man show Just For Us.  They were determined, and it was a good day for levity. 

Scheduled originally to have a December run extended into January, Omicron forced the act into a pause. It reopened January 24. Then the nor’easter threatened it again. Edelman began this set explaining that only briefly did they consider canceling but the show must and did go on, happily for those who got to laugh for 75 minutes. And who doesn’t need a good laugh? He thanked the audience for coming. “They had a siege mentality,” he says, of those who showed up. “Comedians like that.”

Edelman commands the stage, a few stools scattered around to change perspective, as he carries the audience through multiple threads of a narrative—growing up Modern Orthodox and attending a yeshiva in Boston, his brother, an Israeli winter team Olympian, and infiltrating a white supremacist meeting in Queens (and a mental flirtation with one of its members).  His engagement with being Jewish, and the value of empathy are other pertinent themes.   

Quite an achievement to singularly hold an audience and keep them laughing for 75 minutes.(Photo by Tequila Minsky)

Edelman has performed this piece in Australia and London, receiving superlative praise at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Nationally he really enjoyed being at Comedy on State in Madison, Wisconsin, opening for Beck at Irving Plaza and “a particularly sparky night at Cherry Lane this week.” This is his third solo show. 

When asked,  “Has he performed for Chassidic audiences?” He responds, “Chassidic audiences have, generally, been absolutely wonderful. They always come up afterwards to ask I know the comedian Modi. Chassidic audiences love Modi.”

Outside the theater, which is at the bend of Commerce Street, is a colorful quasi-psychedelic portrait of Edelman. 

It’s peppered with relevant imagery (eg. a storm trooper’s boot, a tiki-torch, a star of David, a menorah).   Santa is eating a Purim triangular pastry hamantaschen placed where the third eye is located. This illustration cleverly reflects what the performance is about. 

The show runs until Feb. 19.