One of Andrew Maxwell's first tasks on arriving in Edinburgh was to buy a toy tricycle to wheel himself around on stage.
One of Andrew Maxwell's first tasks on arriving in Edinburgh was to buy a toy tricycle to wheel himself around on stage. This is his playtime hour, and his message to the audience is: don't worry, be happy. But don't let the childlike simplicity of his props and of his haircut fool you; Maxwell is a fully-grown comic in all ways.
From talking about how fear can intrude to spoil your sense of fun, it is a short journey to terrorism, politics and America. Like many comedians in Edinburgh, and for obvious reasons of audience relations, he separates America from Americans when he talks politics. Though he is clear where he stands, he is even-handed in his treatment of others, even claiming that right-wingers are more fun to hang out with despite being inherently wrong. His bar-room tales of pitching his socialist idealism against conservative New Yorkers are extremely funny, as is his ridiculing of the US phenomenon of right-wing satirists. "They aren't satirists, they are jesters" he says, and proceeds to illustrate the point with a deft take on the story of the emperor's new clothes. Maxwell attacks the conservative lobby on both sides of the Atlantic, most skilfully when he illustrates their quandary about teenage mothers. "They are paying for the generations to come, we're all right because we have slags!"
Sometimes the child inside Maxwell comes out to embellish the point: "Why do Daily Mail readers in Surrey worry about this kind of stuff anyway? After all, they have their own ride-on lawnmowers!" Of course, it's only natural that a man-child with a tricycle would be jealous of this motorised status symbol.
There is more to Maxwell than just the politics. His off-the-wall musings complement any subject matter. From the most innocuous of phrases, "book early to avoid disappointment", he weaves a number of delightful character pieces to demonstrate what he sees as a peculiarly British fear.
There's the delicious irony that we in this converted cinema are watching an act to whom those very words may soon apply. The transition effected between the gangly Irish comic and his caricatures is effortless, and it is a delight to see and hear him take on a number of different roles, including a South American prisoner called Jesus who finds himself in a cell with the real Jesus Christ. Draped around the comedy is Maxwell's core belief that we should all just have fun, but he notes that perhaps the Irish are better at this than most since they have so many different words for a good time.
Limitless fun is, or should be, every comic's philosophy and, although admittedly somewhat naive, Maxwell isn't pretending that his show is bound by any profound principle; the thought and intelligence is to be found where it should be located: in the material. There's no need for Maxwell to hide behind glib notions or gimmicks (the tricycle excepted) as his set rolls along quite happily without them. As for the title of his show, it could yet prove prophetic.
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