HOMETOWN Brookline, Mass.
NOW LIVES In a book-strewn one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side, which is sparsely decorated because Mr. Edelman has been on the road so much lately.
CLAIM TO FAME Mr. Edelman is a fast-rising young comedian who mines the particularities of his 20-something, fish-out-of-water experiences for material. “I’ve done MDMA, but I’ve never tried bacon,” Mr. Edelman gripes in his show, “Millennial,” playing up to his Orthodox Jewish upbringing. In 2014, that show won him the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, making him the first American to receive the award since 1997. “Young comedians usually do like seven minutes, 10 minutes, and hope to get a special,” he said. “I wanted to do an hour of comedy. Just to be able to do an hour show and bring it to Edinburgh — that is crazy.”
BIG BREAK After graduating from New York University in 2012, he cast a wide net and sent an email to the Upright Citizens Brigade to get on its weekly variety show, “Gentrify.” “It’s not as cliquey as everyone makes it out to be,” he said of “Gentrify,” which gave him the opportunity to test new material. “It really changed who I was as a comedian. It’s important to be able to kill anywhere and to have that room to fail.”
LATEST PROJECT After an extended 80-show run in Britain, Mr. Edelman toured Australia, Sweden, Berlin and Moscow, where he performed alongside Eddie Izzard, before returning home to New York in May. He performed “Millennial” last week at SubCulture in Greenwich Village, not far from his alma mater. This week, he took the show to Los Angeles, playing at NerdMelt for its final live performance.
NEXT THING His second hour-long show, “Everything Handed to You,” debuted in February at the Leicester Comedy Festival in Britain, where it was nominated for best new show. “That’s the tough sophomore album, as they’d say in music,” he said.
COMIC RELIEF “It’s super-rare for an Orthodox Jew to be doing comedy,” said Mr. Edelman, who as a teenager completed basic training in the Israel Defense Forces while spending a year at a Jerusalem yeshiva. “I did their equivalent of Boy Scouts. One rung above selling cookies, or Israel bonds, door to door.”
Originally published in The New York Times in 2015.