Monday, September 30, 2013

Tony Law, comedy, but not as we know it...

AOG, Madrid

Last Saturday I went to see a stand up comedian called Tony Law with a couple of friends here in Madrid.

He is Canadian, and, according to a quick internet search, he is very funny, up-and-coming (although he’s been doing stand up for about 14 years) and the winner of numerous comedy-related awards.

So, what did we think? Well, I have to say that my friends -one of them Canadian- and I have mixed feelings about the whole thing.

First of all, it doesn’t help that the guy who introduced the show was drunk, or high, or stung by a bee, or whatever.

He manages Giggling Guiri, a business in the business of bringing English-language comedy talent to Spain.

It is less than cool to be drunk when presenting an act. It is also rude.

The last time I saw one of their shows (Giggling Guiri's) it was at a smaller venue, and the guy at the time was very very funny, and the presenter wasn't drunk.

Was Mr. Law as funny as that other guy?

Well.... no.

He may be a comedy genius back in the UK, and he may have his friends and family in stitches when at home, but when presented with an ex-pat audience in Spain, he bombed.


Especially during the first half.

It isn’t that the material wasn’t funny, parts of it were funny, but his general attitude was that he sort of knew we didn’t know who he was and he sort of realised (before we did) that we would not find him all that funny because we didn't know who he was.

Now, like any self-fulfilling prophecy, he was right.

But only because he did little to alleviate our fears and even less to make us laugh.

His delivery was ok, except that at times you had the feeling that he didn’t really want to be there and that he didn’t really know what he was doing. It was strange seeing him pace the stage, play with his hair, and look like he was trying to remember his routine. His arms were usually up in the air for some reason, and his shirt went up, and you noticed, time and again, that he was wearing yellow underpants. And no belt.

He mumbled a bit, and then he would throw a statement in the air, hoping it would land on friendly territory. It did,  but the throw was such a mess that we weren't sure what to make of it all.

Was that part of his act?

I don’t know, but if it was, it didn’t work all that well on the audience. He was just that little bit too random to connect with the public. That little bit too...disinterested. Perhaps he thought we would be a walkover?

And what about part two?

Yes, that was slightly better, except for the odd fact that some of the jokes were rehashed from part one.
No idea.

During the intermission between both parts, I walked to the bar and chanced upon a conversation between somebody who was obviously a Tony Law fan, and an innocent bystander.

He is fucking brilliant but nobody knows who he is”, he said.

That, I guess, was his excuse as to why Mr. Law was not as hilarious to him (and the rest of us) as he normally might be. Or as he thought he was.
So, according to him, it was our fault Tony Law sucked.

I went back to my table and mentioned this to my two friends.
Our general comments were that him being known did not make him more or less funny. Funny makes you funny, whether you are famous or not (and according to the Huffington Post, he is 'surreal').

So part two started, and we thought things would improve.
No such luck.
Yes, there were the jokes about sheep being domesticated back in the ‘olden days’, and his children being Vikings (yes, we already heard that 20 minutes ago, thank you), and a few quips about the audience which only made you feel even more that he didn’t really like being there.

I would not say he tanked, but he came close.

He continued pacing up and down, made a quip about thinking of a joke on the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid (btw, here's a tip, telling an expat audience that the people in Barcelona suck is about as effective as telling a Spanish audience that people from Manchester suck) and continued to play with his hair and remember what he was going to say next.
He finished, he said good-bye, and there was no encore.
We didn't see him again.
It was like a weird aftertaste all in all.
Like we had pissed him off somehow because we weren't laughing. Or maybe he had to pee. I don't know. 

On the positive side (and yes, there is one), it is obvious that Tony Law would have done better with a different sort of audience (one more alcoholised perhaps?) and in a different country, but you get what you get and run with it, and he didn’t really do that.
Also, and this is very important, he managed the most obtuse of hecklers masterfully, so he obviously is a pro at that sort of thing.

And he can do accents more or less ok, though his own accent is very British for some reason.
I mention this because Tony Law didn’t sound very Canadian, but then he does live in North London, in a small flat, with a wife and three kids.
One of them a 4 year old 21 year old. That, the surreal part, was funny. When it was there.

And he had very interesting hair.

He likes to move it from side to side in a sort of I’m-still-young-look-at-me kind of way. 

If he were young it would probably work better.

As would his outfit.

Baggy trousers with a crotch line near the kness usually look bad even on the young, so imagine how they must look on someone who is middle aged!

I think what bothered me the most, was the fact that we paid €15.00 a head for an act which was not too interested in entertaining his audience and, when he did, he was funny, yes, at times, ok, but not €15.00 worth of funny.

Having said all this, should I be in the UK, and should he be playing somewhere in London (since for me London is the whole of the UK), I will probably go and see him.

Just to make sure he is as funny as the online reviews say he is.

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