Lloyd Woolf: Ten Shows I Abandoned
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2008
Warm, whimsical and wonderfully inquisitive, Lloyd Woolf presents his first solo Edinburgh run following huge success with sketch group Cowards. With a charming blend of stand-up and sketch, Lloyd shares ten Edinburgh show ideas that he abandoned.
These range from: Lloyd Wolf - Justice Warrior (in which he was going to outline ideas for punishments that would stop crime instantly) and Now Reap the Social Whirlwind (an interactive audience game in which he attempts to improve - or ruin - audiences’ social lives), to Please Spread the Following Lies (analysing what make a good celeb rumour and attempting to start a few of his own over the course of the festival).
It’s a good concept, you’ve got to give him that. In a festival where a lot of comedians are trying to stretch one concept over 60 minutes, Lloyd Woolf presents potted versions of all the ideas he considered, before realising they would never last the distance.
Of course, he also lays himself open to the charge that some of the projects should have remained permanently abandoned, not returned to like a dog with his vomit – which is possibly true. But for the most part, there’s enough in each notion to be worth mentioning for the few minutes they get.
Woolf covers all the Edinburgh bases, from the geeky challenge shows, to character pieces, to strongly-themed stand-up premises. Strangely for a member of acclaimed sketch group Cowards, it’s the character pieces that are the weakest. He self-effacingly picks apart the flaws in his own creations, but that doesn’t magic them away, even though his modest, warm Welsh charm generally lulls the hour along very pleasantly. That said, his old codger proposing marriage is delightful and strangely touching.
The high-concept ideas tend to work the best. In Now Reap The Social Whirlwind, he encourages us all to send a bizarre text message to a friend, just to make the relationship more awkward; while Please Spread The Following Lies was an attempt to get an outlandish celebrity rumour into the press. Neither would have made a particularly great hour, but are fun ideas to explore briefly.
A couple of the notions obsessed with celebrities were bad ideas from the get-go, such as the drive to get Rick Moranis back on screen, or a concerted campaign to wind up Jeremy Clarkson.
But if Woolf is looking for one style to run with next year, it might be the fall-back of the themed stand-up show. In Lloyd Woolf: Justice Warrior, the versatile Cambridge graduate shows a flair for anecdotal monologues plus an ability to inventively extrapolate opinions to make them funny, as he considers the topic of crime and punishment.
For all the whimsy and charm of some of his more off-the-wall notions, it’s good jokes strung together in a monologue that prove the most effective way of making an audience laugh. Who’d have thunk it?
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett