Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Just for Us
National Tour
Review by Patrick Thomas

Also see Patrick's reviews of Citizen and RUR

Alex Edelman
Photo by Matthew Murphy
Alex Edelman, whose solo performance Just For Us was a hit at Broadway's Hudson Theater, has taken his show on the road, and its first stop (for two nights only) is at the Curran. Edelman is lean, athletic, and bursting with energy. He's also a little nebbishy (in a highly appealing way), with his light gray shirt buttoned to the collar, and black skinny jeans. Think a monochromatic Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory but with a better haircut and you won't be too far off. Like Wolowitz, he's not someone one would expect to be exceptionally brave, but when it's go time, Edelman rises to the challenge.

In Edelman's case, his reserves of courage are tapped when he follows an online invitation to a meeting for people with questions about their "whiteness." The invitation likely hit his Twitter feed after his subtle taunting of white supremacists by making a Twitter list of them–triggering a notification that they had been added to a group–which Edelman had snarkily named "Jewish National Fund Contributors."

Edelman who informs us the "people can tell I'm a Jew by my name, my face, or my personality," decides he'll go, even after his friend from yeshiva declines to accompany him. This can't end well, you're thinking, and you're right. But it doesn't end in personal tragedy, either. Edelman survives his night with 16 "Nerf Nazis" (saying they are about as close to Nazis as kids playing at sword fighting with plastic tubes are to the Knights of the Round Table) and even wreaks his own bit of micro-aggression revenge on the Klan wannabes in a final moment that somehow manages to feel perfectly proportionate to even their wanton anti-Semitism: "Jews are sneaky and everywhere." (The meeting took place in 2017, when Confederate statues were being pulled down, and the chant "Jews will not replace us!" rang out during the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" rally.)

Along the way, Edelman keeps the jokes and pithy observations coming. And the neo-Nazi kaffeeklatsch doesn't occupy all of the 90 intermission-less minutes. He drifts occasionally into stories about his upbringing by Orthodox Ashkenazi Jewish parents "in this really racist part of Boston. Called Boston." Or about his brother, who represented Israel in the Winter Olympics in skeleton, which is like luge, only face-first. Or about the time his family celebrated Christmas for a friend who had lost both her parents and a sibling that year, even going so far as to hang stockings with each person's name them. In Hebrew. He throws in a fact about where Jared Kushner goes to temple in New York and says "when they call him to the Torah, he walks up like he wrote it."

I say Edelman "drifts" from story to story, but it's more like he careens between them, a pinball with a wizard at the flippers. Edelman virtually never stops moving. He circles the stool at center stage, zips off to stage left to grab a bottle of water (tossing the cap into the wings), then immediately strides to the opposite side of the stage. All the while, his hands are fluttering in a way that feels like it's YSL–Yiddish Sign Language. He tugs at his fingers, each in turn, as though he's pulling rings off each one. He jabs at his palms with all five finger of the opposite hand. Like the rest of his body, his hands are in near-constant motion.

Despite the ADHD performance art aspect of Just For Us, Edelman manages to maintain the thread of his story, and one can't help but marvel at his courage for putting himself in such proximity to those who profess to hate his tribe so deeply. Even if he doesn't follow Woody Allen's advice in Manhattan ("physical force is always better with Nazis"), or even tear them apart with with the "biting satire" Allen was dismissing, Edelman manages that very tough comic trick–to keep you thinking and laughing at the same time.

Just For Us has one more performance, on October 28, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. at the Curran Theater, 445 Geary Street, San Francisco CA. Tickets range from $46-$137. For tickets and information, please visit, or visit the Curran box office in person. For more information on the tour, visit