Tony Law, the self-described eighth best comedian in the world, enters the stage dressed like an eighteenth century polar explorer. Dialed in at 100% volume, he spouts things that would be jokes if they had punchlines or made any sense to human ears: “The white in our underpants escaped to become the white clouds in kids’ books.” At first, he appears to be a man who knows what standup comedy is from only its dictionary description, but we soon learn he is more akin to those highly trained realism painters who are so intimate with their craft that they switch over to painting colored squares. He adapts the Gaffiganesque politely critical audience voice to vocalize everything the audience is thinking and respond to it:
- Reviewing this DVD, five minutes in, I jotted down, Can I survive 55 more minutes of this? Thirty-eight minutes in, Tony (as the audience) declares, “You’re right, I’m getting tired of this.”
- I made a note about doubting he’d be able to sustain such a feverish pace and volume. He tells the audience they’re right, that he will need to change up the pace, so he has the light turn off (to imply “some kind of director is involved”) and tells a quiet story about panda prostitution in the dark.
- I wrote doesn’t really have punchlines, gives up. Tony admits that his jokes “taper off and peter away.”
If you’re worried you’re going to have to listen to a man in a bandanna scream about Starbucks (my favorite bit) for an hour, don’t worry, he does mix it up. We are delighted with a video of a financial official in a suit flubbing up an interview. At first, you may not even recognize the clean shaven, short haired man as Tony Law, but his warped Canadian accent gives him away. (Yes, I know Tony Law is Canadian and this is a blog about Britain, but he’s lived in London for the last 27 years and is an essential part of the English comedy landscape.)
We finish up with Tony’s “long lost brother” Duncan Oakley who joins Tony for an improvised song about the content of the show (largely Tony trying to prove that he’s dangerous by standing next to the driver on the bus and getting a takeaway coffee with no lid), of which the chorus is, “Go, Mr. Tony, Go! Where other comics fear to Go!…”
Tony Law might be, as he himself claims, a bit like jazz. You might like him or you might not get him, and even if you do, you can probably only handle so much of him. One thing is for sure: one needs a lot of intelligence and insight into comedy craft to come off as as much of a buffoon as he does.
You can get the download from Go Faster Stripe for 5 pounds, or 12 pounds for the region-free DVD with special features. This includes (but is not limited to) a twenty-minute interview with Tony (and Duncan for a while), the best of which is the discussion of other comics they’d seen during the Fringe Festival that year (of which this show is a part of), including Stewart Lee (who Tony claimed to be diseased during his act), Robin Ince, Sara Pascoe, Simon Munnery, etc.