As someone addicted to comedy, each gig is another opportunity to find that laughter hit, that moment when you see talent and you think “this is why I love stand-up comedy. This is what it’s all about”.
That unique, raw and emerging comic voice that oozes confidence, creativity and commitment to an art that most often seems so simple. Alex Edelman is such a talent and his debut hour at the Edinburgh Fringe is a stunning display of how exciting it can be to watch an emerging writer and performer.
Alex has been performing comedy since he was 15-years-old, starting in the US and has now gigged all around the world. I asked Alex to write about some of his ‘local favourites’ in places he has performed.
An insight into the life of a comedian that you don’t often see on stage. I cannot recommend enough that you go and see him if he’s in a town near you.
When you become a working comedian, and begin travelling for shows, you have to learn to find comfort immediately. You have to be at ease with whatever is thrown at you, unfazed by the unusual and constantly changing locales. Whether it’s a quick visit to a famous city, or an extended stay in an anonymous town, you have to sort of be able to seek out tranquil places where you can find some quiet or fun.
These are my favourite spots in some of the places I’ve performed. They aren’t all restaurants, or beautiful landmarks, or tourist attractions, but they’re places I’ve fondly remembered visiting before or after shows.
Victor’s Nightclub – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Victor’s, a nightclub just a few blocks from the Comedy Café on Water Street, has been an insidious Milwaukee institution for almost half a century. It’s one of those joints where your shoes stick to the floor with every step. Locally, it’s known as the place where horrifying stories and memorable nights begin, and where you’ll find yourself wedged against the bar between sixty-year-old farmers and sixteen-year-old girls who got in on fake IDs. There’s a real powder-keg atmosphere to Victor’s and it can kick off in there at any moment. I once saw a brawl there that began with two couples accidentally bumping into each other during a slow dance to Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love. True story.
Promenade Plantee – Paris, France
This is a bona fide hidden gem, actually. Built over an old rail line that starts behind the Bastille Opera, the Promenade pre-dates New York’s High Line by about two decades, and is three lush miles of jogging paths, sculpture gardens, and Parisians who aren’t aware that it isn’t cool to rollerblade any more.
Back Steps of Panchito’s – New York, NY
Minetta Lane is this narrow sliver of pavement between MacDougal and Sixth Avenue. It’s secluded and quaint and cobblestoned. On weekends, when the two streets on either side of it are heaving with drinkers and audience members from the Comedy Cellar a few steps away, Minetta is still quiet.
Panchito’s, a Mexican place, has its back entrance on Minetta — there’s a more heavily trafficked MacDougal entrance — and a seat on those steps is a much-needed exhale from the pandemonium of the West Village. BTW, right at the end of the alley on Sixth Avenue is Joe’s Pizza, which, I swear to God, has New York City’s best slice. Seriously. Nowhere else even comes close.
The Laser Quest on Dalry Road – Edinburgh, Scotland
Dalry Road runs through the Stockbridge/Haymarket area of Edinburgh, a neighbourhood pretty removed from the 600-odd comedy shows that Edinburgh sees during the Festival. This place is a laser quest place. It’s dark and they give you laser guns and then you run around in the dark and try to shoot each other with the guns. It’s wicked fun.
The Waterhole – Saranac Lake, NY
The Waterhole is a short three-hour drive from Ottawa and a long leisurely five-hour drive from New York. It’s fifteen minutes from Paul Smith College, the finest (and I think only?) accredited University in Adirondack Start Park. I performed at Paul Smith on a particularly brutal winter night, and after the show, the only restaurant still open and serving food was this place, a two-story structure on Saranac Lake’s Main Street. The jukebox played four Bon Jovi songs in a row and the same one twice, but the barbecue sauce wings were as good as any I’ve ever had.
It was really cold that night. Seriously cold. When we took our locally brewed Saranac Lake Root Beer outside to drink on the porch, they froze solid pretty much immediately.
Post Alley – Seattle, Washington
Okay, so it’s this little street just underneath that famous Pike Place Market, and there’s a lot to love about it. It’s a bit of a walk from the comedy rooms in Capitol Hill and Pioneer Square – both areas of Seattle worth a visit – but Post has got this famous bubblegum wall that’s strangely photogenic. It’s just a wall covered in bubblegum, but it’s cool to look at (and add to, btw). Also, five minutes away, in the same little alley, there’s a tiny unmarked pink door that hides a great Italian restaurant/cabaret club.
Dodger Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
After a show at the Laugh Factory or the Comedy Store, take a left and follow Sunset Boulevard until you run out of Sunset Boulevard to follow. You’ll run into Dodger Stadium, one of America’s best places to watch baseball. There’s a great view of LA’s downtown from the stadium’s upper-deck parking lot.
The Bench in Front of the Willow Tree at the Brookline Reservoir – Boston, MA
A few miles up Route Nine there’s this secluded little man-made reservoir in a suburb called Brookline. It’s not a big reservoir, and if you were one of the many people who jog it daily, you’d find it’s almost exactly a mile around. My childhood home is pretty near to it, and after a set at a place like the Comedy Studio in Cambridge, I’ll drive to the reservoir, and walk the half-mile around to where the reservoir’s willow tree is, plug into my iPod, and sit on that bench and try to think calm thoughts for as long as possible, until it’s time to go home.
You can see Alex Eldeman’s Millennial show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – for more information head over here.