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Edinburgh Festival review – Andrew Lawrence

Tuesday, August 10 2010

The same freakish, creepy delivery that has served Andrew Lawrence so well is still in place, but is being used to make straightforward points about M&S sandwiches and Cocopops in Too Ugly For Television, writes Ben Clover.


Andrew Lawrence

Andrew Lawrence is quite different these days. I warned my friend before he started that there was no one quite like Lawrence for a disturbing hour of laughs wrung from the ornate horror he details.

His freakish material and creepy delivery made him a refreshing figure on the circuit, pretty much a character comic. So it was strange to see him shift to doing fairly straight forward observational material, as incongruous as Jerry Seinfeld appearing in The League of Gentleman.

And given that the show was called Too Ugly for Television the audience might have expected an uncompromising hour from Lawrence, instead it was more like something you might see on the box, possibly pre-watershed too.

But the section of the audience that didn't have their expectations confounded got a solid hour of moderately rancorous stand-up on conventional subjects; the life of a working comedian, arguments with his girlfriend and the like.

It was fairly bile-filled compared to most acts, but if you've seen him before at the height of his horrorshow glory he just seems a bit grumpy by comparison.

He doesn't always seem entirely comfortable in his new mode either. Lawrence's delivery is still different enough to mark him out, lots of the laughs come from his tremendous feats of lung. They must be the size of binbags to sustain the series of epic rants, each seemingly in a single breath, sustained by snatched intakes of breath like a jazz trumpeter. He always had this gift, it was just unsettling to see it used to make fairly straightforward points about M&S sandwiches or a Cocopops advert.

His impressions of his mum, a Spanish dentist and an Australian promoter were highlights though, and showed off the same relentless attack and pedantry, but it seemed a little like he had cleaned up for TV (he mentions a forthcoming Michael McIntyre appearance).

There were moments when the old, creepy voice slipped out, the one he used to do whole sets in and he mentions how he uses comedy to re-purpose his dark thoughts. The other option, he says, being the playing in his head of a certain TV comedy show's catchy, brass-led theme, the one that usually accompanied speeded-up footage of the comic icon pursuing bikini-wearing women.

It's in leading the packed and sweltering Pleasance room in a deafening rendition of this tune that he comes most alive. Three times he does this, after explaining that he hates the show in the next room and wants that audience to hear the sound of a crowd having a better time. So maybe he's not changed that much.

Three stars


Andrew Lawrence: Too Ugly For Television is on at 9.20pm at the Pleasance Courtyard, click here for booking.

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