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Andrew Lawrence: Soul-Crushing Vicissitudes of Fortune - Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Andrew Lawrence has established himself as one of the most unrelentingly vitriolic comics on the circuit, with a bleak cascade of misanthropic misery all described with horrific gothic imagry, involving all manner of sexual and physical depravation from corpse-felching to ‘bestial-urinary fetishism’. He makes Two Girls, One Cup look like In The Night Garden.

But the magnificently extravagant tirades have a filthy beauty, as he unleashes the full force of his wretched self-loathing onto whatever target riles him: officious Leicestershire traffic cops, feral Friday-night drunkards or comedy critics whom he sees as a cancer against art. It would be hard to take this personally, though, as he hates just about everyone and every thing – his own ‘rapist features’ and whining voice included – and with a passion, too.

Everything is attacked with a powerful stream of nihilistic invective, bleak but always eloquently put. The man’s a one-man thesaurus of despair, brought on by his whole pitiful existence in a squalid, damp-infested ex-council flat on the outskirts of dreary Rickmansworth. Even an observation as apparently straightforward as the fact KFC serves its food not on plates, but in buckets, is this given an extra kick.

His wrechedness is compounded by the sad realisation that, for all his if.comedy nominations, he would be earning more if he quit stand-up to become a bus driver, a job he rather fancies. The harsh realities of trekking across the country to perform for imbeciles for a pittance, negotiated by an agent who lost interest after he failed to fulfill his early promise, are yet another cause for complaint.

How his career could take off, it’s hard to see. He’s not exactly your jovial panel-show host, and the material is too harsh for all but the outer reaches of any TV schedule. But he actually quite likes performing, especially as he professes to be so thick-skinned he cares not if the audience love or hate him. This enjoyment lets in an unwelcome sunbeam into his dark soul, which we never wanted lightening.

There’s even a sincere-sounding ‘thank-you’ to the well-behaved festival audience at the end, with an attempt at a homily, that also sits uneasily with the tsunami of fetid hatred that he unleashes so well.

Review date: 7 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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