Alistair Williams: How To Lose Weight And Be Less Racist | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Alistair Williams: How To Lose Weight And Be Less Racist

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

For what it’s worth, I’d probably have handed this show an extra star were it not almost entirely comprised of previous shows’ material. A contrarian to his bones, Alistair Williams is a martyr to his low status in the comedy community, railing selectively against critics’ dismissals of his output, even as these barbs grow less fresh with each passing year he reacts to them.

Still, you can’t fault his title for breaching the Trade Descriptions Act. Though there’s a bit of whimsy about slack zookeeping and amusing anecdotes about his former Australian flatmates, Williams makes his points about better diet with bracing, forthright opinion and solidly funny examples, railing against processed manufacturing, while piquing holier-than-thou hypocrisy about McDonald’s. Even though it borders on hectoring and ironically, needs the heavier race stuff as a palate cleanser, it’s punchy, well-reasoned stuff.

Deliberately provocative, but not illogically so, the race-based material requires his spurious arguments about Hollywood racial recasting and a previous dismissal of him as ‘another white male comedian’ to launch it. As Williams appreciates, context is everything. And it would be interesting to see that original critique in full, whether he was part of a wider bill for instance. 

Seguing into questions of nationalism and British arrogance in particular, he’s mischievously witty on our colonial past returning to bite us in the arse. He’s perceptive on Brexit too, the material, rather damningly for our negotiators, having not aged in the past year.

Indeed, with his routine about sexual consent also betraying its origins in his Great White Male show’s defence of the species, it’s a poor reflection on the scene that he’s more probing, original and topical than many of his peers 12 months down the line. He takes justification for his behaviour beyond mere black-and-white moral objectives to pragmatic, socially attuned ones as well.

By literally doubling down on his material though, Williams risking creative stasis or wandering off into the Andrew Lawrence wilderness of over-sensitive, instinctive opposition to everything, which might potentially blunt his perceptive, distinctive mind.

Review date: 25 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Just The Tonic at The Caves

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