Annick Adelle’s debut comedy album Between Two Worlds lives up to its name, showing the comedian to be adept at navigating the gray, liminal areas of life. Recorded in Fargo, North Dakota, Adelle spends the hour discussing what it’s like to be a rare German comedian (the term could be an oxymoron), feeling 50/50 about gender (Adelle prefers no pronouns, except “your majesty” or, if utterly necessary, she/her), and the pitfalls of the corporate workplace.
Adelle’s jokes are funny, if at times slightly trite—a bit about how men want to fix the problem when women just want them to listen is a little overdone—but where the comic really shines is during audience interactions. Notably, the crowd didn’t realize they were being recorded for the album until the very end, meaning that their chattiness and general gameness for participating are genuine reactions to Adelle’s hilarious performance, rather than put on for the sake of the record.
That doesn’t mean every audience exchange is a flawless meeting of the minds, but rather that Adelle properly listens to them and has the skills to joke about the interaction at hand, even if it veers wildly off-track. Adelle meets the audience in the middle—something Adelle is likely good at in part because the performer is a German immigrant in the US, used to parsing the muddy waters between cultures. Usually something like this happens during the album: the crowd may not be initially receptive to Adelle’s prompt, or Adelle misinterprets their response, but instead of freezing up or acting stand-offish (and many comedians favor the latter), Adelle edges toward the audience, eager to understand, the crowd does the same, and they meet somewhere in the middle. Adelle’s self-deprecation adds to these bits, with Adelle at one point commenting: “That’s how you know you’re never going to make it—when the crowd explains the joke to you.” The crowd work during Between Two Worlds is mixed, but mostly positive, and these moments show flexibility and confidence on Adelle’s part.
As for delivery, Adelle comes across as lovably scattered, occasionally verging on naive, but this style works in Adelle’s favor. Personally, I don’t trust anyone who claims to have it all together and figured out, so Adelle’s on stage vulnerability is endearing. Adelle is here for a fun time, telling us about how, post-top surgery, Adelle would mess with women at the clinic who were there for breast enhancements. The comedian also takes the time to touch on more serious topics, like the culture of remembrance in Germany and the US’s comparative culture of ignorance, but still with a skewed perspective that keeps things humorous.
Adelle may be Between Two Worlds, but she has found her place as a uniquely engaging and thoughtful comedian.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.