« Previous | Main | Next »

Andrew Maxwell - Supernatural

Post categories:

Ellen West - web producer | 09:43 UK time, Thursday, 14 August 2008

There's a slight smugness about Irish comedian Andrew Maxwell that might prove an obstacle to laughs if he weren't so witty. As it is, Maxwell's tales of performing in front of Loyalist and Republican crowds in Belfast, of doing a gig in a prison and of being Irish in America are very, very funny. He has a great turn of phrase and a mastery of accents that makes his stories very involving. It's not entirely clear where the title of his show comes from - the story in which he wanders around a spooky derelict theatre with a cockney security guard is one of the few that doesn't seem to go anywhere - but the underlying message of the show seems to be that we should all be nice to one another.

The evening starts with a meditation on young men having to be "fierce" and the perception that violence is everywhere. In one of the funniest moments of the show he suggests that restrictions on knives are pointless because if people really want to do violence to someone they could use a fork or a spoon. In a perfect impersonation of street bravado he says, "You carry the spoon you have to use the spoon".

It's when Maxwell himself enters the frame that the smugness creeps in. He makes a great play of not being self-important about what he is doing, while stressing just how terrifying it is to be hanging out with a group of Loyalists: in other words he is incredibly brave and daring. It doesn't quite ring true, and while the hint of piety doesn't detract from the skill of his delivery or the intelligence of some of his observations, it has a distancing effect. The show ends with the suggestion that we should make each other laugh rather than resorting to violence - a fine sentiment; but for it to work we would all have to be as funny as Andrew Maxwell.


  • 1. At 12:21pm on 20 Aug 2008, scotisarahblogger wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 2. At 1:50pm on 31 Aug 2008, oneloveformusic wrote:

    I’ve always been intrigued by the origins of things. From whence did they originate? How did they come about? What gave rise to it being done so, rather than not? Now, one can read about the origins of almost anything; man, earth, the side parting. You can do so by using THE great modern invention of our time – the web. Or the old fashioned way, by reading a book. Here you will find a myriad of different theories, put forward by an equally dazzling list of authors claiming to have THE definitive solution. Equally, and perhaps more satisfying, there are events that have occurred that cannot be fundamentally explained, or if they can, certainly not in a way that allows my mind to picture the event. Take, for example, the Moai statues of Easter Island. Now various theories place the creation of these statues at differing periods separated by centuries. What they all agree on is, they were created using stone not indigenous to the island. And certainly not a stone that was transportable by any known means. Which begs the question, “How did they get there?” My mind can’t even fathom such an event occuring…well, actually I can, but to realise it, one would require a Dreamworks production budget and most would then just argue that it was far fetched. Similarly, my mind and imagination hit a vacuum like wall when challenged to imagine what time must have been like prior to what many like to call The Big Bang. This is my favourite description of The Big Bang, “a cosmological model of the universe that is best supported by all lines of scientific evidence and observation. The essential idea is that the universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past and continues to expand to this day.” Come again? I don’t get it. First I don’t get how something is growing at an infinite level. What exists on the other side of infinity? It’s growing, right? Well, what’s it growing into? A big space? A big empty space that drops as deep as it ascends high? An ocean of nothingness that drops into an abyss of nada…? Exactly. I just can’t do it. Then, there is the issue of what existed before tick tick boom? Again, we’re told that, “the universe was filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density, huge temperatures and pressures, and was very rapidly expanding and cooling. Approximately 10-35 seconds into the expansion, a phase transition caused a cosmic inflation, during which the universe grew exponentially. After inflation stopped, the universe consisted of a quark-gluon plasma, as well as all other elementary particles. Temperatures were so high that the random motions of particles were at relativistic speeds, and particle-antiparticle pairs of all kinds were being continuously created and destroyed in collisions. At some point an unknown reaction called baryogenesis violated the conservation of baryon number, leading to a very small excess of quarks and leptons over antiquarks and anti-leptons—of the order of 1 part in 30 million. This resulted in the predominance of matter over antimatter in the present universe.” Yes but antiquarks, antischmarks…what did the gaff look like? I mean just try and fathom it. Bearing in mind that nothing existed in this ‘infinite density’ you can’t start imagining swirls of clouds, or “C-beams shimmering in the dark at the Tannhouser Gate.” And that for me is the fundamental intrigue, letting the imagination run to a point so far removed from the shackles of time and space that no book or theory can actually paint the picture. It instead requires an experience of the event. The joy of unchartered territory is that no one can tell you you’re wrong…


    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS


Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.