Andrew Lawrence: The man from A.N.T.I.
Star rating: ****
Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)
Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Review date: Thursday 13th August 2015
Daily 20.10pm 7th-31st August 2015. £10.00
Banned from reviewing this show!
I’ve read a lot about Andrew Lawrence in recent years but had never seen him perform and was more than curious to see who he was and what he had to say. Especially as I felt I was not welcome to review it. Whether that’s because I was a reviewer, or more to the point a Black reviewer, I can’t say for sure, but I formed the distinct impression that a review from Tiemo Talk of the Town was not welcome. His was the only show on the Fringe that I struggled to get a press pass for despite being told one was organised for me. Very odd.
I was tempted to just give the show a wide berth as a result of that poor treatment, but curiosity got the better of me and there was something about “his people” not wanting me at the show that made me more determined to find out why. So I bought my ticket and watched the show anyway.
It soon was clear why he would not have wanted me there. The attacks on Lenny Henry, the anti-left wing, pro-UKIP politics. The attacks on political correctness in Rotherham and above all the attacks on his fellow pro’s.
In fact, as a Black Blogger I had no issue at all with Andrew saying whatever he wanted. There was plenty I agreed with and some I didn’t, but none of it offended me in the slightest. Perhaps Andrew and/or his PR assumed a Black Blogger would take great offence at his show and wanted to avoid it being negatively reviewed. That’s just my assumption and I may be completely wrong of course. It’s just funny that someone so fearless on stage and on Facebook and calling their show, of all things, ‘Uncensored’, would fear a review from Tiemo Talk of the Town. Oh well. Takes all sorts.
There’s a new film out next week called ‘Misery Loves Comedy’. Unfortunately Andrew Lawrence is not in it, but he should be. The film examines the misery and unhappiness behind mainly American Comedians, with some Brits such as Steve Coogan and Stephen Merchant added for good measure. What makes a comedian tick? Andrew would have been a good subject for this, as this was very unusual, consistently downbeat and miserable (in its angry, vitriolic abuse), yet with sufficient amusing gags thrown in along with the piercing barbs.
It seemed to be a real cathartic, purging of all his anger. Andrew Lawrence is the Anti-man of comedy. He is rabidly anti everything. Anti-establishment, anti-comedians, anti-left wing politics and comedy, anti-feminism, anti-political correctness, anti-equality and diversity quotas.
I wasn’t anti-Andrew Lawrence though. Nor were most of the audience. There was a point to everything he said and he certainly didn’t let a good rant get in the way of dropping witty, razor sharp jokes throughout his hour long performance.
Political Correctness and battles against his comedy peers
He infamously incurred the wrath of many of his peers last year with a Facebook post criticising panel shows such as Mock the Week, plus diversity quota’s that insist on women and ethnic minorities being given opportunities on such shows in order to meet BBC equality targets. He railed against the un-meritocratic nature of this. This is something he wrote about again earlier this year complaining that comedians such as Funmbi and Glen Wool made it onto John Bishops TV Show, shown at prime time on Saturday night on BBC1. He felt they weren’t good enough and there were far better comedians worthy of those slots. He may have had a point. I only saw the episode with Glen Wool (a sort of poor Canadian man’s Tom Stade). He certainly wasn’t ‘Live at the Apollo’ standard and arguably if you’re on prime time Saturday night TV you should be exceptionally good, which is Lawrence’s entirely valid opinion.
John Bishop’s made his name, had his breaks on shows like ‘Live at the Apollo’ and is now giving opportunities to up and coming comedians, so I guess it’s deliberate policy to not feature the usual A or B list comedians.
He detests the left-wing beliefs, or professed beliefs and jokes of many comedians, thinking many are just espousing such views as it’s the in thing and in order to get booked on these shows as they feel that that is what channels like the BBC and C4 want to hear. He is a lot more right wing than that and feels that viewpoint is squeezed out on popular panel shows. I agree with him on that point.
His view on UKIP that they weren’t as detested by the general public as comedians would make out was borne out by May’s general election. I realise they only got 1 MP, but that was more down to the un-fair and unrepresentative first past the post system we operate. The 4 million votes they received was testimony to their popularity.
He spoke re feeling bullied by the likes of famous faces such as Dara O’Briain “with their huge twitter (2m) and Facebook followings.” I’m not so sure about that. They felt under attack and defended themselves via social media as they had every right to. I recall Andrew gave as good as he got and didn’t back down on his views.
Furthermore it was great publicity and helped massively raised his profile, for as he modestly alludes to during the show he is probably a C list comedian in the grand scheme of things i.e. professional, making a living from comedy, doing solo tours and generally getting by quite well thank you very much.
He reserved particular ire for Stewart Lee calling him a sell out and also had a withering, but very funny, dig at Ricky Gervais. He took issue with Lenny Henry’s high profile diversity crusade over the last few years, saying if anything it was his fault there are no Black comedians getting through on TV as “he set a bad example of being a Comedian.” Ouch! It got a good reaction though.
I think that’s a bit unfair as Lenny’s had a hugely successful TV career for 40 years which would not have happened if he wasn’t considered funny. Even if Lenny isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (and believe it or not, not every Black person feels he is either), the problem of lack of Black stand up on TV goes far wider than whether or not TV executives feel one man is funny or not. Any TV execs here in Edinburgh for the Fringe would have seen plenty of funny Black talent such as Judi Thomas, Michael Che, Nathalie Roberts, Nico Yearwood, Reginald D Hunter, Stephen K Amos and Trevor Noah to name but a few. Not to mention the countless other comedians outside of Edinburgh. Richard Blackwood (I presume the BBC realise he’s starring in their #1 rated soap opera Eastenders), Slim, Curtis Walker, Glenda Jaxson, Aurie Styla and Annette Fagon – many of whom featured on BBC Radio’s showcase last year … so the BBC do know that Black talent is out there. It’s a question of why they aren’t using it on TV.
I enjoyed his anti-feminism piece as he nailed the myth of the “weak woman” being oppressed with plenty of solid statistics to back up his point. Some highlights courtesy of the Men’s Human Right’s Blog ‘MRA’. A link can be found at the end of this review.
- Educational disadvantage of boys, from aged 5 to university.
- Lack of recognition of, or assistance for, male victims of partner abuse.
- Men’s shorter life expectancy.
- Substantially less research funding on men-only diseases compared with women-only diseases.
- Male suicide rates are 3.5 times that of females, suicide being the commonest cause of death in males under 50.
- The family courts discriminate outrageously against fathers.
- There is no gender pay gap for people under 40 years old.
- Female suffering is newsworthy, male suffering is not (e.g. Boko Haram – how many people know that their main activity is killing boys?).
It’s difficult to argue with those stats and I won’t because I consider them to be correct.
Storming out over Rochdale sexual abuse
One of the edgier and unintended highlights of the night. To make the point about political correctness not always being a good thing Andrew spoke bluntly regarding how it allowed rampant sexual abuse to go unchecked in Rotherham for too many years. More than 1,400 children were raped, sexually abused and groomed between 1997-2013. People in the know felt Asian men were grooming young girls but didn’t blow the whistle on them for fear of being called racist. At this point a big Asian man stood up and shouted “F*** off. F*** off” directly at Andrew Lawrence and stormed out of the venue. Very dramatic indeed. All eyes were on him. Then on Lawrence. Tension was in the air. Nothing was said in response. The man was already walking away up the stairs for an early night.
How would the tension be broken? I was tempted to break the tension by shouting out, ”Maybe he was one of them,” but thought better of it! I can’t recall a witty reposte from Andrew. He just looked bemused and carried on with his performance. It was a rather silly and puerile walk out as Andrew was only stating the obvious fact that child sexual abuse and grooming carried on un-checked because of this. It’s not racist to point this out.
Andrew Lawrence is wickedly funny. This was a serious, but amusing and political show. It was edgy, wickedly brutal and funny in it’s put downs and not in a OTT clearly jokey a la Joan Rivers way either. Andrew says it like he really means it. I like that in a person. It means you know exactly where you stand with them.
© Tiemo Talk of the Town
***** 300th Blog *****
If you attended this show we’d love to read your views. Feel free to post them directly on our blog.
Andrew Lawrence: Un-censored features in our Top 10 shows of the Fringe 2015.
- Edinburgh Fringe Tiemo Talk of the Town reviews – August 2015
- Tiemo’s 10 of the best shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2015 – 29th August 2015
- DVDs from many Comedians performing at the Fringe can be found here at the Tiemo Entertainments Funny Ha Ha store
- Rotherham Sex Scandal & Independent Enquiry – Brietbart article and Jay report – 27th August 2015
- Mock the Tweet: Things a Comedian shouldn’t say – Andrew Lawrence Facebook spat – 4th November 2014
- Top 10 shows, restaurants and attractions – Edinburgh Fringe 2014
- The facts about men’s inequality – MRA
- Top 50 Stories re male inequality – Inside-Man – 2013