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Andrew Maxwell: The Lights Are On

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

We live in turbulent times, although most people at the Fringe are comfortable enough to avoid the worst of it. Perhaps that’s why comedy is more often than not ‘me, me, me’ – with stand-ups picking apart their own lives. Either that or blame social media, which makes everyone with a Twitter account think they are at the centre of the world.

So it’s welcome to see a comedian look outward towards current events and crack not only jokes, but damn fine jokes, about them. That you know Andrew Maxwell can only have written his material about riots only within the past few days gives this impressive opening section an urgency and relevance that’s comparatively rare.

Such immediacy sometimes means topical comedy is given more latitude: never mind how funny it is, look how much of the moment it is. But the mercurial Maxwell’s take on the disturbances is a fully-formed routine, with both proper jokes and clear opinion, hewn from knowing his own hypocrisy. ‘I would love to attack The Ritz,’ he says, stressing the word ‘love’, then, after timing a perfect pause. ‘Or stay in The Ritz.’

It’s these 15 or 20 material on the riots that gets Maxwell written about, but his whole set is freshly minted. The Queen’s visit to Ireland, the Arab spring, the News of the World’s phone hacking, the killing of Bin Laden, the Irish beating England at cricket – the bulk of his set comes from the past few months.

Even more well-ploughed furrowed such as paedophile priests and the greedy bankers are given fresh twists. He doesn’t necessarily go particularly deep into any topics, we’re here for laughs not lectures, but he can see new angles for jokes on Lockerbie bomber Al Megrahi or Israel’s national psyche. He plays up being just a cheeky Irish tinker – even to the extent of having a model wooden caravan on the stage in which to conceal his drink – but he’s a savvy old thinker behind that mischievous bonhomie.

Meanwhile, that everyman persona means he doesn’t have to shy away from a good dick joke if he can shoe-horn some in… and, wouldn’t you know it, he can. This is how good stand-up should be: immediate, opinionated, nimble and naughty.

Review date: 24 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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