Alex Edelman Reflects on the Profound Journey of ‘Just For Us’ and the Legacy of Collaboration & Empathy

On a poignant Easter Sunday, Alex Edelman took his final bow for “Just For Us,” marking the end of an extraordinary six-year odyssey with the critically lauded one-man show. “It felt like a closing chapter,” Edelman recounted in a recent interview. “There was this overwhelming sense of unity with everyone who’s been part of this journey — from those behind the scenes to the audience members who’ve connected with the story. It’s a bittersweet mix of thankfulness and melancholy.”

Debuting in 2018, “Just For Us” delves into Edelman’s experiences with online antisemitism, leading to his attendance at a white nationalist meeting in New York. This quest for understanding against the backdrop of hate became the core of a show that explored empathy, identity, and the essence of community, eventually captivating audiences worldwide from its off-Broadway beginnings to an international tour, concluding with performances at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

The show, which premieres on HBO as a comedy special aiming for awards recognition, was a collaboration between Edelman and Adam Brace, Edelman’s long-term creative ally who tragically passed away last summer. Their partnership, which spanned three solo shows, was a testament to their shared vision and creativity. Reflecting on the evolution of “Just For Us,” Edelman shared insights on personal growth, creative development, and the impactful conversations that shaped the show’s narrative.

Discussing his transformation throughout the show’s run, Edelman humorously noted, “I started this journey somewhat naive and came out the other end far more mature — albeit with a sense of humor intact about the whole process.” The show’s development paralleled significant life and career milestones for Edelman, including a deeper dive into his Jewish heritage and a sophisticated understanding of narrative structure gleaned from his television writing experiences.

The title “Just For Us” encapsulates various interpretations, resonating deeply with Edelman. It invites audiences to ponder their place within the broader societal fabric, a theme amplified by Brace’s direction. “Adam always believed a powerful solo show could question our collective existence in the world,” Edelman reminisced, emphasizing the title’s multifaceted significance.

Edelman’s tribute to Brace highlighted the profound impact of their collaboration. “Creating this show with Adam was a dialogue of creativity and friendship, a continuous exchange even after his passing,” he shared. This ongoing conversation with Brace, coupled with support from Brace’s family and partner, underscored the communal spirit that “Just For Us” embodies.

As Edelman looks ahead, the legacy of “Just For Us” and his partnership with Brace offers a beacon for storytelling driven by empathy, curiosity, and the willingness to confront uncomfortable truths. The show’s transition to a filmed special ensures that this dialogue continues, capturing a moment in time while inviting new audiences to engage with its universal questions of identity and belonging.

In the wake of the show’s conclusion, Edelman also shared insights into his personal journey and the profound impact of Brace’s absence. He candidly reflected on the evolution of his relationship with Brace, from close friendship to creative partnership, noting the deep sense of loss following Brace’s untimely passing. Despite the void left by Brace’s absence, Edelman expressed gratitude for the ongoing dialogue and support from Brace’s family and loved ones, who helped him navigate the complexities of grief while honoring Brace’s legacy.

The experience of performing “Just For Us” nightly served as a poignant reminder of the enduring connection between art and empathy. Edelman’s exploration of themes such as identity, belonging, and community resonated deeply with audiences, sparking meaningful conversations and fostering a sense of solidarity. As the show transitions to an HBO comedy special, Edelman hopes to continue this dialogue on a broader scale, inviting viewers to engage with its thought-provoking narrative and universal themes.

Looking to the future, Edelman remains committed to storytelling that challenges conventions and fosters understanding. He sees “Just For Us” as not only a culmination of his artistic journey but also a testament to the transformative power of empathy and human connection. As he navigates the next chapter of his career, Edelman remains grateful for the lessons learned and the relationships forged during his time with the show, recognizing the profound impact it has had on his life and work.
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