So much interesting information in his head, he has to take measures to make sure it doesn't pop out of the top
Andrew Maxwell at Arlington Arts on Thursday, May 13
IT was difficult to get the measure of Andrew Maxwell. He declared that his Arlington Arts appearance was one of his strangest gigs to date, but appeared to be fairly at ease in the sparsly-populated auditorium, despite a tardy arrival owing to a major hold-up on the North Circular. Facing a fairly small turn-out the other end some comedians may have seen this as a sign they should turn round and go home, but Maxwell clearly has a try-anything approach to experiences and wouldn’t want to turn down the opportunity to garner a good anecdote.
Once into his flow, it became clear that Maxwell has a head chock full of interesting information, strong opinions and sharp observations, but in parts of the pre-interval warm-up’’, his random thoughts started to verge on a burbling and rather uncomfortable pub conversation. As a result, Maxwell’s joking suggestion that he and the audience give up on the gig and find a pub quiz appeared to be acted on by a few people, who left during the interval.
However, the rest of the show was worth sticking around for, as the second half was more structured, centring around a handful of prepared tales, and better for it as Maxwell’s ability as a storyteller and talent for voices came to the fore. An Irishman himself, Maxwell didn’t shy away from expressing thoughts on other cultures, from Islam to Australia, and demonstrated an experimental approach to throwing his ideas out into the audience, occasionally against his better judgement, I suspect, when it was apparent that they may not be that well-received.
While most comedians who are parents have an amusing story or two to tell about their offspring, Maxwell’s observations on his toddler son and daughter’s differing approaches to tackling the perennial problem of a closed stairgate were spot-on, even if it resulted in the conclusion that women are “born mental”. The opinions he voiced were often controversial but he demonstrated a depth and breadth of knowledge to back up his utterances, and his globetrotting experiences meant that he was able to riff comfortably with the audience on a wide variety of unplanned subjects, such as the Berber link to South Wales, and some jaw-dropping Michael Jackson gossip. Maxwell’s unpredictable approach to stand-up might not be to everyone’s taste, but as a pub quiz team ringer, he should always be in demand.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News, Thursday, May 20, 2010