Andrew Maxwell: Round Twilight

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Make no mistake Andrew Maxwell is a naturally funny man: E4's King Of Comedy, Chortle's comedians' comedian and a well-deserved favourite on the circuit.

But this year's Edinburgh show tends to lean a bit too heavy on those innate abilities at the expense of the keen writing that helped him garner all those accolades in the first place.

Even the title itself, a vague nod to the difference in human behaviour from day to night, seems to be primarily an allusion to his companion midnight show, the uniquely raucous Full Mooners gig, suggesting his attention might primarily be directed elsewhere.

Maxwell describes himself as 'a weasly little fucker who manages to make friends and talk my way out of awkward situations' wherever he may be. And Around Twilight is essentially, three extended anecdotes crossing three continents, all offering evidence in support of that honest self-portrait.

First up are his post-gig exploits in Doha, the capital of the Gulf state of Qatar, when he suddenly finds himself being driven into the pitch-black desert by a handful of Arab strangers who he just met at a party but turn out to be not quite who they seem.

Then he finds himself in a dark alley in Cape Town being intimidated by a street gang from whom he's just agreed to buy weed; and finally he finds himself performing in front of a black audience in New York whose only experience of Irish life is based on a cereal packet.

All these tales are inherently interesting ­ after all, who among the audience is going to have adventures even close to matching them? - and Maxwell has the dominant storytelling gene which means he knows how to spin a yarn. But the routines, engaging as they are, seem underpowered in terms of pace and gags. Essentially, they are entertaining, roundabout journeys, with destination nowhere.

The fun is driven by Maxwell's unquenchable sense of mischief, irregardless of the consequences, which genuinely appears to be a blind spot to him. This can just as easily manifest itself with a subversive phone interview with a cheesy Irish radio station as with a life-threatening situation thousands of miles from home. The feeling of running with a guy too slow to realise where his spontaneity might lead him until it's way too late is naughtily appealing.

Add to this a smattering of fine lines, some good, if half-formed, ideas, and Maxwell's always engagingly cheeky company, and it makes for a fun ride. But there's not quite the cohesion, structure or drive that would elevate this from a good hour into a great one.

Steve Bennett

 

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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