6 August 2006

Andrew Maxwell - Round Twilight

The post for this year's show says 'the best comic on the circuit - The Daily Telegraph'. Now while the Daily Torygraph maybe many things, it, like the other broadsheets, knows its art. So with very high hopes I went to see Andrew Maxwell. The phrase "don't believe the hype" springs to mind. Nobody is allowed to live on their reputation, every night you go out there you have to perform. This year's show from Andrew Maxwell is weak, self-indulgent and down right poor. A current trend amongst lesser comics who have a mild bit of TV coverage is not so much to name drop, but to deliberately write or set their stories in the TV studios. If Andrew really did make some political comments on Big Brother's (aka Why Bother's) magazine show then leave it be. Coming on stage and saying "I said the funniest thing six months ago, listen to me bore you for five minutes while I basically recount something that has already broadcast on a very crappy timeslot and nobody has watched". A few 'jokes' about saying the wrong things whilst stoned is the repertoire of the student, not a professional comic. So gutted was I by this performance I will give a warning for next year's show - avoid it until a respectable reviewer says he has made up for this joke of a show. Two stars out of five and my very first "Avoid at all costs" warning.

Now on to The Scotsman again. They really are becoming the bain of my life at the moment. Somehow, some nobody called Jay Richardson has just given this show a full five stars. Funny that, because one of the countries most respected comedy critics (his name escapes me for the moment) has just give him two out of five and said he was quite poor this year. Let's leave it open to the people to decide, oh, the current average if 3/5 with several 2 or lower reviews at edfringe.com. If I was paying £12 to see him I'd demand my money back.


  1. Hang on Phil. 5 stars in the Scotsman, 4 in the List, Evening News and Chortle, the latter generally recognised as the UK's most respected publication on stand-up comedy (certainly no reviewer sees more stand-up than the guy who runs it, Steve Bennett)?

    Of course, the unpaid amateurs at the Skinny are welcome to their opinion, as are the punters whose frothing reviews of one or zero stars make a mockery of you quoting Andrew Maxwell's average at edfringe.com.

    Regardless, though you're just plain wrong. Maxwell is an excellent compere and comedian whose talents were recognised by his appearence at the Secret Policeman's Ball, despite having no household name recognition. He plays the invitation-only Kilkenny Comedy Festival every year, was nominated for best stand-up by Time Out, was the only UK or Irish comic to get invited to play at the HBO Comedy Festival alongisde the likes of Chris Rock, Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld etc and one of the few to be invited to the prestigious Montreal festival. What's more, his second show at this festival, Full Mooners, is the only one the owner of the Comedy Store has ever personally bankrolled, so assured was he of its quality.

    Whatever you think of him, he isn't a "lesser comic". He's one of the industries most respected and best-paid headliners.

    Incidentally, this was a killer point, didn't undermine your rant one bit:

    'because one of the countries [sic] most respected comedy critics (his name escapes me for the moment) has just give him two out of five and said he was quite poor this year'

  2. Hi Giac, apologies in the delays in responding but I always knew one day I would. First of all the Scotsman and Evening News can be disregarded straight off as they give questionable marks out all the time, notably "marking out" for big names. Chortle on the other hand has a tendency to not give poor marks so 4 out of 5 is hardly amazing.

    As for the professional critic, I couldn't recall whether or not it was Julian Hall from the Independent or Leo Benedictus from the Guardian that gave the poor rating. Judging by this year's reviews it looks certain it was Leo. Allow me to quote a bit, I'm going to keep it un-edited so I can't be accused of changing the meaning by selective quoting:

    Nevertheless, Maxwell's nomination this year is a surprise. He's more a people's than a critics' comic, and has been cheerfully doing his thing for years without troubling the judges. I can only suppose that what caught their eye this time is the continuation of a trend, evident in last year's show, to begin infusing a little well-meaning politics into his act. And yet, to my mind, it is on this ground that Maxwell is weakest. His beer-and-spliffs persona does not sit naturally with calls for understanding in our inner cities, and it is always a relief to hear him return to what he does best, such as expounding on the basic unpleasantness of testicles. "We wouldn't like tits if they had balls," he observes.

    Maxwell's slacker bonhomie can also slip a bit during his anecdotes, which generally concern his own feats of bravery, liberalism or debauchery. Tales of one's own admirable behaviour are difficult to tell in a likable manner, and although Maxwell has more than enough self-deprecating charm to make a go of it, he never quite wipes away all trace of smugness from the experience. "All I care about is show business," he says at the end, in a stirring love letter to his audience and his profession. I found him funnier when that was true.

    I think that's quite powerful back-up for my argument don't you?