Reviewer: Dave Cunningham
The second half of the ‘stand up art show’ Frillemorphesis opens with comedian Tony Law repeating a single phrase over and over in a variety of bizarre accents before concluding: ‘Review that!’ Well, I’ll give it a go but it’s not going to be easy.
Tony Law merges the improvised techniques of performance art with stand up comedy. This absurd style of humour is highly subjective and is very much an acquired taste. To appreciate it best one has to try and see things from the somewhat distorted viewpoint of the artist. But this is made difficult, as it is sometimes hard to tell if Law is being artistic or self-indulgently amateurish. Law exploits the surreal approach to allow routines to run on and on, adopt and drop accents and generally dick about. It has a defensive edge – as if he is guarding against criticism by refusing to take the show seriously.
The first half of Frillemorphesis is particularly extreme; Lawclassifies it as ‘Other’. He enters wearing a headband, huge Mickey Mouse style gloves and a cape. Throughout the show Lawducks under the cape to converse with his inner voice that alternates between offering reassurance or criticism asking where routines are going or if an end is in sight. Lawsuggests that audiences attend his shows just to see if he is coping and he does make things hard on himself. It is difficult to see why else he would attempt to play a trombone while wearing a rubber horse mask over his face. It certainly is not very funny.
Lawreminds us of the adage that comedians should finish the first half of the show with a tight routine designed to ensure maximum enjoyment. He then delivers a meandering semi-improvised skit about a boy who hoards a severed head. Apart from a sequence performed entirely in darkness the second half of the show is more conventional; but then it could hardly be less so. There is a more obvious structure and the gags have a point and even punchlines – of a sort. Law’s routine about having to headline a gig at the Glastonbury festival, when he is accustomed to lunchtime shows with a minimal number of attendees, is particularly good.
It is great that the comedy circuit is varied enough to accommodate a surreal artist like Tony Law but there is no denying that he is a ‘Marmite’ act – one you either love or hate. while one could enjoy his performance art approach when relaxed on a Saturday have a feeling that this opinion might change if knackered after a day’s work and just in need of a few quick laughs to unwind.
Reviewed 20th February 2016