Edinburgh 2013: Liam Williams - A comedian of existential introspection


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The Independent Culture

If the hero of John Osborne's Look Back In Anger, Jimmy Porter, had ever performed stand-up, he'd look and sound a bit like Liam Williams. Similarly deracinated and disillusioned, Williams sets out to extricate himself from the restrictions of a lower middle class upbringing and thereby express his dissatisfaction with the world as a whole.

Merely performing stand-up is not enough - "I didn't get to comedy to have more conversations on equal terms" is his superb put-down of audience banter.

Williams' deadpan, workmanlike and earnest persona is furnished with numerous lines of a similarly sublime quality. "My neighbours piss me off... Their wi-fi signal is so weak" scorns the 25-year-old, as he builds up to more fundamental disillusionment with human failings.

A gimmick-free debut hour of Williams, one-third of the sketch group Sheeps, would have been a big ask of the audience, let alone the performer. Nonetheless, the comedy tropes he introduces, including extracts from a novel and his idea for a television show (a documentary in this case), sometimes restrict, rather than encourage, his existential introspection. Similarly his use of Venn diagrams, a favourite of lo-fi comedy, is a familiar ruse, even as he takes a more sideways look at them.

There is little argument to be had, however, when it comes to acknowledging that Wiliams' solo effort has brought with it a fresh voice, and a persona pliable enough to thrive in various media, not just on stage.

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