Andrew Lawrence's 2009 show is a hate list that, while being hugely funny, is just a hate list, and not much more, says Paul Fleckney.
You pretty much know what you will get from an Andrew Lawrence gig. Bile. Bile as fluent as birdsong. Whereas other comics shock in the same way a tabloid headline shocks, Lawrence achieves the effect by weaving a tableau of vile, captivating images like a comedic Hieronymous Bosch. His incongruously runty voice somehow suiting his futile world view.
His 2009 show, Soul-Crushing Vicissitudes of Fortune! (check out that exclamation mark!), is essentially a hate list. Right-on gap-year "travellers", KFC bargain buckets (or the people who buy them), the inner workings of his agent's office, critics, Amelie, they all take a lashing from Lawrence's unrelenting tongue. At its best, it is awe-inspiring to hear, and benefits from his occasional smiles and displays of warmth. They break the tension, show how much he enjoys these tirades and reminds us that he is human (this, it seems, is the whole problem). The If.Comedy Best Newcomer 2006 is also mischievously self-aware, aware that his appearance and voice makes him anti-TV material, despite being funnier than pretty much every Mock the Week regular. So why not hammer home his incompatibility by spewing forth at every opportunity? Lawrence's show last year, Don't Just Say Something, Sit There, was huge on laughs and a tough act to follow. This year he gives us nothing new, to be honest, which is a little frustrating. He is dismissive of any attempt to tie the show down too much to its theme (luck), nor does he want to tie it all up with a neat conclusion. Which sounds admirable, but it renders the show just a hate list – the thread last year of anti-careerism at least gave the show purpose. Lawrence can't get any better at what he does, so it would good to see him add another string to his bow, or apply his talents in a different way. It would be a shame to see such a talented comic stall any further. Four stars Soul-Crushing Vicissitudes of Fortune! is on until August 30 (except 19) at 9.35pm at the Pleasance Courtyard. Click here for tickets.