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Andrew Lawrence: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Nione Meakin

Trust Andrew Lawrence to get the audience in the Saturday night spirit: ‘So you’ve come to see some stand-up comedy? Well, it passes the time while you wait for death.’

But no one comes to see Lawrence for his chirpy world view. For nearly a decade he’s carved a niche as one of stand-up’s bleakest clowns and at 32, he shows no sign of mellowing.

Within the first 20 minutes of the show he’s covered overpopulation, suicide, stealth euthanasia and pissing on public sector workers. It’s hard to believe him when he feigns surprise about being the BBC’s first choice to present a documentary on the link between comedic brilliance and mental illness.

Lawrence is at his best when he launches into one of his lyrical, vitriolic diatribes – his writing is immaculate. His attack on the dubious health benefits of supposed diet foods and the cynical advertising campaigns that support them builds and builds until it achieves a sort of demonic quality, while his recreation of an attempt to skive off a shit job is blackly farcical.

He’s less impressive when he takes the easy route to shock; even he looks unsure about his joke on the Dark Knight Rises/Aurora shootings and the audience’s reaction confirms what he obviously suspected. It raises the perennial question of how soon is too soon for jokes about tragedy but more than that, it comes across as cheap. Lawrence is too intelligent for this sort of gag.

He gripes at one point about being described as ‘up-and-coming’ in a recent interview – it’s understandable that he finds it frustrating after nine years in comedy. But there’s a genuine sense of fatigue lurking below the surface of this show. Lawrence’s writing and delivery rarely lets him down; it’s more that he seems a bit weary of being this character.

A few segments come across too much like what he thinks the audience expects of him. Again, it’s understandable when you have such a specific niche – it’s not like Lawrence can take a foray into light-hearted observation all of a sudden – but it makes for a show that’s slightly more lethargic than one might hope for from this talented comic.

Review date: 21 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Nione Meakin
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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