Andy De La Tour: Stand Up Or Die | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre

Andy De La Tour: Stand Up Or Die

Note: This review is from 2013

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Soho Theatre

This peculiar show, more storytelling than stand-up, ties in with the released of Andy De La Tour’s brief book, Stand Up Or Die, earlier this year. It told how, after a decade at the vanguard of the alternative comedy scene in the 1980s, and two decades of retirement, he decide to return to stand-up – but in the fresh stomping grounds of New York, for novelty’s sake.

On stage, he sets up the same premise – although he doesn’t have the luxury of being able to delve into the all-important detail a book permits, so the show gets off to a rather slow start as he covers the reasons why this gaunt, older comic found himself doing a strictly-proscribed eight minutes in a Lower East Side bar, with little local colour.

Then he moves into the material he performed in the States; stuff about Tea Party loonies, 9/11 conspiracy theories and how President Obama isn’t funny as his race means he is (was?) treated with too much reverence. It’s gently amusing, but for a stand-up set seems slightly dated, since it’s preserved from his time there, so doesn’t have a real satirical bite.

It’s not exactly clear when De La Tour went to New York; but had he kept working as a comic since his Manhattan project he is set would presumably evolved... but political observations such as the fact that the Twin Towers terrorists were Saudi – so America invades Iraq and Afghanistan – have nothing like the impact, freshness or relevance they would have had a decade or so ago.

Other observations that Americans are fat and eat a lot aren’t made any more insightful by his first-hand experience, though De La Tour has an actor’s presence and a quietly affable nature that endears. Other comments about his time in the Big Apple are wryly amusing – the minutiae better than the once-topical stuff – but still work better on the page than the stage.

This doesn’t seem a serious attempt by De La Tour to make a comeback into the British circuit – and he would need to throw himself into the scene more intensely if he wasn’t to be outclassed by even relative newcomers. But seen as something more akin to a literary event, the night serves its purpose as an introduction to the man, the comedian and his book – all achieved in a single, nicely self-deprecating tale of being bumped down a Comedy Store bill to a slot immediately after an unannounced visit by Robin Williams, an impossible act to follow.

Click here for our original book review. The Kindle version is now just 76p. Buy.

Review date: 17 Nov 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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