Andre Vincent Is Unwell

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Most comics reveal something of their inner selves during a stand-up show. Rarely is it their internal organs.

But Andre Vincent delights in showing a squirmish audience video footage of his operation to remove a cancer-ridden kidney.

Sounds a right barrel of laughs, doesn't it? A comedy about cancer. Humour about a tumour.

But it turns out that - professionally, anyway - getting cancer was one of the best things to happen to Vincent, giving this solid circuit performer enough material for an exceptionally brilliant show.

First off, there's little blatant pathos here, just a rich seam of strong, observational comedy. It just so happens that the observations are a little more substantial than kids' TV or smoking pot.

Yes, a certain gallows humour pervades it all, thanks in no small part to Vinny's sometimes disturbingly descriptive anecdotes, and it is at times uncomfortable viewing (the home video especially) as people do get uneasy around this particular c-word.

But perhaps surprisingly, this is not an especially dark show. Whenever something a little unpleasant is discussed, Vincent always gets people laughing again through his accomplished stand-up skills, evident in his scalpel-sharp ad-libs and outstanding one-liners.

Like the acclaimed journalist John Diamond, Vincent's attitude is that he isn't brave, just unlucky. Only Andre packs in more punchlines than Mr Nigella Lawson did. Getting laughs is what drives him - and very successful at it he is, too.

That commitment to the comedy means that even when Vincent gets back test results later this month that could give him the all-clear, he won't open them until after (or perhaps during) the last performance. That way he won't change the show's atmosphere to a more glib 'I got cancer, now I'm better' feel - or the much darker alternative.

And for the audience's perspective, that's the right move - for this show is perfect as it is. Go and see it now - either way, it can only have a limited run.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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