Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Tony has identified a problem. He’s been kicked out of all the tribes and it turns out he is a white man. He is taking us on a world tour where we will meet some interesting characters and, maybe, find out what identity means. With his unique delivery style, it’s going to be fun.
Most comedians come on stage, introduce themselves, tell stories about their lives, tell some jokes, make some puns and deliver gags. The audience laughs and the comedian leaves, the transaction fairly concluded. Both parties know what is going to happen and are usually, pleased when it does.
Tony Law, at some point must have considered this model and decided he wanted nothing to do with it. With Tony the audience rarely knows what to expect. This is a stream of consciousness show, elements of which have worked out in various degrees of detail.
Unusually, the show starts relatively quietly. He enters, bearded, a jaunty top hat on his head and guitar in hand. His blue shirt, braces and brown trousers confirm a folksy appearance. The set is dressed with a large map of Tony’s World hanging on the wall behind him.
Chaotic and loosely themed, the show is a white-knuckle ride into the world of absurdity. He is taking us on a world tour. Occasionally he runs off track and looks at his notes. something the audience would never have noticed had he not pointed out. Not that it matters.
From the responses many in the audience are fans, they seen his show before, for others this is a new experience.
Unlike other absurdists, Spencer Jones and Paul Currie as examples, Tony’s act is word based. He doesn’t have hundreds of props, scenery or visual imagery. There is no artwork, or randomly created elements. Audience interaction is limited, and the guitar is used sparingly and fittingly.
The theme of the show is his world tour. He treats us to a variety of accents, which sound convincing. He has a gift for mimicry. There are a wide range of British dialects, brogues and slang which cleverly reflect location and social class. At one point he manages to carry off a Trinidadian accent, something that could easily go wrong for all sorts of reasons, but it works.
It’s fast paced, chaotic and puzzling. There is a feeling that as we try to work out one gag along comes something completely unrelated and away we go again. He tells us that his aim is to design a show where the audience are unable to describe what they saw to anyone else. As this review shows, he’s not far off. Certainly no one is going to be trying to tell Tony Law gags over a pint this evening.
There are high points, the Talking Heads piece, a brilliant and insightful Brexit analysis and the finale stood out. He is informative, fun and delivers his comedy with intensity. Definitely with a lot of intensity.
That said the gaps between the laughs seemed longer than in previous shows. There were elements where he slowed, where spotting the humour seemed harder than before but the audience liked the show and the applause was genuine.
This is not mainstream comedy, you have to work a bit harder to appreciate this. If you have not seen Tony before, be aware that he brings something different to the table. He is charismatic, his energy and intensity gives the show its power. This is a good show.