Andrew Maxwell: Supernatural

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

No wonder Andrew Maxwell seems so relaxed. Performing in front of an amiable festival crowd must be a cakewalk compared to some of the gigs he’s done these past 12 months. Letting his mouth and his ego get the better of him, the cocky Irishman has found himself playing Dublin’s Mountjoy prison as well as notoriously brutal pubs on both sides of Belfast’s sectarian divide.

He’s certainly got an unshakeable confidence in his own abilities to even attempt these tough gigs, even if his misguided attempt to make his own version of Johnny Cash’s Live At St Quentin album, almost ended in disaster as his chatty observational comedy fell on deaf ears.

His gigs in the heartland of Belfast’s supposedly dormant paramilitary organisations – which both took place on the same night – were certainly an eye-opener; an experience few of us would ever want to undertake. But thanks to Maxwell’s immense skills as a storyteller, we don’t have to.

He eloquently brings the terror and surrealism of this extraordinary night to vivid life; seeing the humour both in the extreme situations, and in his own reaction to them. It’s a fascinating story, magnetically told with a unique insight.

Maxwell delivers his tales from a barstool, the very picture of calm confidence, and infuses his anecdotes with mischievous wit and honest insight, with the gravity of the situations he found himself in adding weight to the laughs. When he mocks Orange order marches, for example, you know there’s a braveness behind the cheeky-scamp façade.

Not every routine is underpinned with seriousness, however. He varies the pace and tone of the hour to hold the audience’s attention, and rarely has it looked so easy. He can turns on a sixpence from discussing Belfast’s fragile truce to the joys of Ryanair’s no-frills service or the practicalities of smoking dope when you’re out of Rizlas.

It’s a consistently beguiling hour, as funny as it is thoughtful. Hell, it’s almost worth getting imprisoned for.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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