Tony Law: A Lost Show | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Tony Law: A Lost Show

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

This is Tony Law's apology tour, a show acknowledging the years lost to alcohol and cocaine. So of course, he comes out with his face plastered in white powder. And with a mysterious prop he found in a box from his 2013 tour, berating the space bear teddy: 'Who are you, what were you for?' Well, as he says, you've got to start somewhere.

Truth be told, apart from a sporadically penitent tone, interrupted by blurting incredulity that coke might not improve your behaviour after three decades of hard drinking, the Law of 2018 doesn't seem all that different, save for the bell he's been given to ring any time his mind wanders. Which is plenty, the ding-a-ling competing hard with his trademark foghorn gimmick of swallowing the mic, announcing that perhaps, a bit hasn't landed in the way he intended.

Dressed in maritime stripes and with sweatbands on, ready for action, he looks good on three years sober: chest puffed out, with plenty of the old blowhard ebullience around more introspective moments. Good luck mining his data, Facebook, he's a mess of contradictions.

Law affords glimpses of the therapy he struggled to take seriously and his Canadian adolescence castrating hogs on the family farm, which might have had an impact on his mental health. There are also occasional asides about his long-suffering wife and struggle to reconnect with his kids. All those years facing down hecklers and it turned out, he was the wanker all along!

He’s an Anglophile since watching Monty Python and listening to The Who as he drove his tractor around the farm, and believe, Brexit is the logical extension of our island people's national hostility, which can be summed up in a fiercely-spat expletive. Seeking similar answers for the rise of Donald Trump, he recalls a visit to Texas to meet relatives, confident in his prediction that they'll be as liberal as he hopes.

Like his old collaborator Stewart Lee on his 2010 tour, Law grasps at a guitar for the last refuge of the scoundrel stand-up – a moment of emotion expressed sincerely, the prospect of such earnestness almost making him retch as he tries and fails to peel away the layers of his clowning defence.

Meanwhile, his wife's stoicism it turns out, comes from an impressive bloodline. And he pays confused tribute to the Suffragettes in a period ladies’ hat, suddenly becoming the epitome of the arrested development manchild belatedly waking up to his responsibilities in an era of female resurgence.

It might seem callous to suggest but this feels like Law with the handbrake on compared to five years ago, as he continues the journey to get reacquainted with himself. With his wealth of experience, he's incapable of doing a mediocre show. And his audience are very much still on board, the wilful oddness and spontaneous-seeming asides never seeming forced.

Yet an edge has definitely been forsaken, perhaps for the best, as his finale sees him finally nailing that moment of sincerity and reconnecting with his loved ones.

Review date: 21 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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