Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Edinburgh Fringe 2011: Tony Law - Go, Mr Tony, Go!

To start a review with the line: "Tony Law's show is a painful experience" would be hugely dangerous. In fact, this show is so brilliant I fear I'll run out of superlatives for it before I finish, but - in my case at least - the cheek-and-stomach ache induced by laughing at Law's comedy does make the line completely true, if rather recklessly misleading. But then, in going for the dangerous option I am only following Law's own lead.

For one, Go, Mr Tony, Go! is taking place at The Stand 2, away from the main Assembly-Pleasance hub of the comedy Fringe, and at midday - dangerously early for the notoriously tardy Fringe-going public. "What are you all doing here?" Law asks his sell-out audience at the top of the show.

But more than that, a large portion of the show concentrates on Law demonstrating just how dangerous a character he is with examples of the low-level hazardous situations he knowingly puts himself in. This is such a feature of the show that in one of the many instances of Law vocalising what he imagines is going on in his audience members' heads he says: "we get it Tone, you're dangerous, that's probably enough examples." In a super-rare case of Law being off the mark, that certainly wasn't what I was thinking. I could listen all day.

Silliness abounds then - an imagined encounter with a panda bear prostitute certainly falls under that category - but a lot of this show is actually about comedy itself, with Law often referencing the fact that he has taken a rather different path from those comics that "notice things". And he's constantly self-analysing, reacting out loud to whether a line has gone down well or not - you can often hear the cogs in that comedy brain of his whirring away.

On one level, Go, Mr Tony, Go! is a an hour-long stream of joyous nonsense - and that would probably be sufficient. But in fact the show is a whole lot more; a little chinese puzzle waiting to be unpacked, full of lengthy surreal digressions, throwaway lines that other comics would kill for, and subtle little callbacks that it takes the audience a couple of moments to dredge up from their memory banks.

In this small, circular room, Law's force of character dominates, and he regularly manages to get the punters to that lovely point of still giggling about the previous joke when he's already moved onto the next. With the show starting at noon, you could easily go on to see another five or six shows on the same day, but you're unlikely to see a better one. As clever as it is loud, ridiculous and hilarious, Go, Mr Tony, Go! is, ultimately, a gem.

Written for British Comedy Guide.

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