Andrew Maxwell: Shake A Leg | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Andrew Maxwell: Shake A Leg

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Andrew Maxwell has long been a voice of sanity when it comes to British politics, one of the finest comics around on the subject. And with so much anxiety about the far right, the far left, the culture wars, Brexit, Trump, terrorism, fake news, you name it, these should be ripe times for the social commentator. 

Maxwell does touch on some of these issues and has turned in another mighty fine bit of homework, but Shake A Leg is also a bit of a cop-out. With everything that’s going on, it’s surprising to get big chunks of material drawn from his BBC radio show Conspiracy Road Trip, which was broadcast in 2012. 

Maxwell gives us two substantial stories from that show, one about pissing off some gun-wielding security guards at Area 51, and another on the Orgone Warriors, some lunatics who prepare for an alien invasion. Their inclusion is justified by a link to antisemitism within the Labour party, but surely his road trip stories should be background to material on the state of the Labour party, not the other way round? 

There’s another fallback in a routine about New Zealand being blissfully free of news, including a story about a ‘confrontation’ between a policeman and some Polynesian men-mountains. Again, this material feels like place-holder stuff, never quite irrelevant enough to be discounted completely, but only tangentially relevant to the clusterfuck that is 2018.

With that moan out of the way, it has to be said that this is a very funny show still. He has a terrific opening section on Brexit and the British border in Ireland (not the ‘Irish border’ as he correctly points out), explaining exactly what it is, exposing the shocking ignorance of Brexiteers on this subject. I also enjoyed, for a number of reasons, his piece on Australian news amounting to sport, and the Aussie cricket captain’s tearful confession to ball tampering. 

The most animated Maxwell gets is during a brief piece on the #metoo movement, and the roaring dickheads it has brought out of the woodwork. To round this off he offers an analogy between sexual fantasies and fantasising about being able to fly, to cut through the limp arguments of ‘pro-harassment’ men.

So news still clearly fires his belly, but there are moments in the show where he admits that he doesn’t really know what’s going on, particularly with regard to Brexit (who does?). And there’s even a rare bit of self-doubt, where he questions why he is so addicted to grubbing out bad headlines. 

Keeping up with the news can be a burden, but just when I was hoping Maxwell would rise to the occasion as he has so often done before (not least with his previous one, Showtime), Shake A Leg skirts the issues.

Review date: 16 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Assembly George Square

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