Reviewer: Laura Maley
The Public Reviews Rating:
Apparently Andrew Lawrence is The Best Kept Secret in Comedy. To be fair, he has been on BBC1’s Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, reaching a sizeable audience. He also has a Radio 4 series, ‘What To Do If You’re Not Like Everybody Else’. I saw him at Manchester’s Comedy Store late in 2011 and was very impressed – like the good folk at Edinburgh Comedy Award and Chortle who have nominated him for two awards each – and knew his new tour, ‘Best Kept Secret in Comedy’ would be one to look out for. Two sold out shows at the Lowry Studio, however, tell me that the secret is getting out.
The first things you notice about Lawrence are his appearance and his voice. He plays on his ‘creepy’ looks – he really isn’t creepy, but he keeps the likeable side of self-deprecation and the audience allows the effect to stand. Vocally he’s one of the most interesting comedians I’ve heard in a long time – I’d say instantly recognisable, which could be very important to his career as it undoubtedly progresses. It’s not just the sound of his voice though, his delivery is pretty incredible – he seems not to pause for breath once he gets a real head of steam on, for example, an increasingly annoyed story about the perils of train travel.
Lawrence tells the audience he has a dark side, one that might not get him on TV – but it’s this dark side which delivers the killer punchline on a number of occasions; it’s the dark side which has the unpredictability and unexpected shock of a really good comedian. He’s very creative with his misanthropy, and his delivery is fast paced (in a controlled, rather than manic way) and very firmly targeted at life’s injustices – from poverty and famine to rail replacement services.
At times it feels like the show could go either way. The material lacks consistency and the pace is uneven at times. Although both sections of the show have very funny moments, I get the feeling a condensed version (with no interval) would be even more effective. But then comes a killer line, seemingly from nowhere, often it’s a line that makes you squirm as much as it makes you laugh.
It’s not all shocking or dark though: everyday stupidity comes in for a fair bit of stick. Next time I hear the song, “If you’re happy and you know it clap your hands” I will be reminded of Lawrence’s compelling evidence that it is in fact one of the most evil songs ever written.
I wouldn’t typify Lawrence as a surreal comedian at all, but some of his funniest moments are the weirder ones – an extended tale of birth and early years, from a child’s point of view is inventive, surprising and hilarious; likewise, meeting hairdresser ‘sh*t-chat’ with a made-up job is brilliant. Oh, and he also reveals what he believes could be a sure fire way of getting a five star review from the Guardian, so I’ll be looking out for that during Edinburgh this year…
The ending is suitably clever and inventive, offering the audience two entirely different endings and three seconds to make pick one. On the count of three, the secret’s out: applause being the obvious choice.
Runs until 12 March 2012