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Andrew Maxwell - Supernatural

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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.


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