Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fringe Review - Andrew Lawrence: Don't Just Do Something, Sit There, Pleasance Upstairs, 24/08/2008

When life gives you lemons, they say, make lemonade. When life gives you bright orange hair, the face of a troll, the voice of a chimp on helium and the body of the bloke off the Mr Muscle adverts, be a comedian.

Andrew Lawrence, it has to be said, has made great play of his appearance in the past and continues to do so. However, he does seem to also be trying to tone down that aspect of his act. The wild haired bug eyed loon of two years ago is gone, as is last year's uncomfortable looking scrawny youth looking like he was dressed by his mum. Instead, his hair cut fashionably short and wearing a well fitting sports jacket, he's the kind of guy you would hardly take a second glance at in the street.

And in some ways that should be a good thing, as it takes the focus away from the visual and towards the verbal, which has always been his forte. Except that this year, that seems slightly subdued also. His ability to paint horrendous mental pictures using evil twisted words has always been his forte, but this year he seems to have lost some of that amazing verbal dexterity in favour of just being a bit shouty.

What is good is that, despite road testing this show all over the country, he has clearly found the time since arriving to write a whole new section just for Edinburgh which, by its nature he will have to discard upon leaving, concerning the ubiquity of his face on the side of taxi cabs. He had thought everyone would be doing the same, he says, but finding it was just him, he now feels like the only person to turn up to a party in fancy dress.

The theme of the show, and the point of the title, is the sheer uselessness of ambition, the pointlessness of being a driven individual, striving to climb life's ziggurat, to improve ones self, to reach the pinnacle of success, when we're all just going to die in the end anyway. And to illustrate this, his example is, as always, himself, and his pathetic, miserable existance as a man who makes his living standing up for an hour each night trying amuse people, and half the time failing to do so.

The old Lawrence is still there, under the surface, that much is clear. He is still full of misanthropic disdain of the world at large, and a savage loathing of both himself and society in general, but some of the almost poetic nature of his previous diatribes is gone, replaced by more generalised speech, which might make for a more popular and easily accessible show, but for me takes away a certain portion of his uniqueness. We already have plenty of "grumpy old men" comedians, we don't need a grumpy young one, and my worry is that if Lawrence continues down this path he will join the morass of homogenised complainers we already have on the comedy circuit, rather than being the "one of a kind" talent he has been in the past.

1 comment:

Tommy said...

Ziggurat, eh? Did he play guitar?