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Edinburgh Fringe 2009

William Andrews: Nitwit

Performer: William Andrews Producer: Mick Perrin for Just for Laughs Live

Venue: Pleasance Dome


Low Down

Andrews invites his audience into an Absurdist world dominated by devices over which he appears to have only precarious control but in fact manipulates brilliantly.


This is the comedy of feigned incompetence. Andrews wears an almost permanent expression of baffled panic. Why is he standing in front of an audience trying to be funny? What can he think of to amuse us now? And why has he got all these computers, TV monitors, and recorded sounds to cope with? The panic modulates occasionally into astonished delight when something he is attempting comes off successfully. 
The struggle with devices begins when Andrews tapes the mike precariously to his head at the start of the show. Part of the fun comes from our own fear that his technology is going to let him down. In fact, he uses it to superb effect with meticulous technical support from his SM. There is a magnificent sketch when he plays a scene of incompetent seduction with a pre-recorded actress on the monitor at whom he makes an awkward pass. 
In fact, he doesn’t even need the devices. He generates a high-level of frenetic energy punctuated by wistful moments of self-doubt about the quality of his material. At one point he tells a series of unfunny jokes for which he keeps apologising so that the comedy is not in the material but in his relation to it and to us. 
Humour is very subjective and I have to say that Andrews’ brand is not my kind of comedy and I found it only occasionally amusing. However, it was hugely enjoyed by the (mostly male) audience and without sharing their enthusiasm, I can certainly understand it.