Alex Edelman: Just for Us at the Menier Chocolate Factory review: brilliantly, intricately funny

After tracking the online antisemitic abuse levelled at his previous standup show, Jewish American comedian Alex Edelman ended up attending a meeting of white nationalists in

New York. As you do. This situation seems both wildly improbable and entirely natural in the world of the hyper-energetic, hyper-smart, 33-year-old star of the late-night US TV

chat circuit and creator of Radio 4’s Peer Group. His attempt to charm 17 diehard racists over pastries leads to galloping digressions into culture, heritage, populism and

privilege. The show starts, by the way, with a joke about zookeepers telling a gorilla who has mastered sign language about the death of Robin Williams. But every gag and anecdote

ultimately circles impressively back to the central theme of empathy. Edelman grew up in an observant household in Boston, his father an academic and his brother AJ a member

of Israel’s 2018 Winter Olympic skeleton-bobsled team (yes, really: Alex called him the “frozen chosen” for years). So, he’s ostensibly white and privileged, but not what he calls

“WASP” white. When most of the events described in this show take place, in 2019, he is attending the same New York synagogue as Jared Kushner, but doubts if the life he lives is

“Jewish enough”. Mixing with loser would-be Nazis in Queens – the most diverse borough in New York – is a way of testing his commitment to Judaism’s exhortation that one

should be a good person, the ultimate empathiser. But also a chance to gather good material.