Soho Theatre, London, 10th April 2019.
With a title like Willy you might presume this latest show from William Andrews would be about his name, and how it was shortened by some people in a childish manner, but you’d be completely wrong. And trying to predict what Andrews will do or say in this hour and ten minutes of comedy turns out to be a foolish endeavour as he’s a completely unpredictable comic and leaps from one subject to subject without their being any real link.
This isn’t an issue in the slightest though as he’s an incredibly funny man who can seemingly talk about anything and make it entertaining, as he proves at one point when he tells a rather distressing story about how his father once shot a kitten in it’s face, but still manages to create a lot of laughter from the audience. I’m aware that out of context that sounds horrendous, but within the scope of his set it’s not only strangely humourous but also thought provoking.
At the beginning of the night he talks about how he’s been diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and that’s immediately apparent as he speaks at a fast rate about his relationship with a speech therapist who became his wife, who later turns out to be fictional, or as Andrews puts it “His mind wife”, before tackling the subject of shit. Which again might not be a topic you think comedy gold could be spun out of but he manages it with ease, he has a unique and quite poetic way with words at times and so is able to discuss his and his son’s bathroom habits while making everyone all but hysterical.
He does slow down about twenty minutes in to the set when he talks about death, pointing out how everyone in the audience will die in a very matter of fact way, but he has such charm that no one seems to mind at all. This segues in to a story about how when he was eight years old he murdered his pet fish in a surprisingly creative if bleak manner, and it’s that which then leads to the story of his cat killing Dad. After this appalling but painfully funny story is told he then turns his attentions to chat about various other subjects, and it’s here that the show slightly slows down and occasionally disappoints, not that it’s ever in any way bad, it’s just not as joyfully amusing as it once was.
So a segment about how he hosted karaoke in his twenties is fine and generates laughs but doesn’t quite go anywhere, and neither does his reading of The Tiger Who Came To Tea in a Welsh accent, at least until he finishes the story and tries to consider what the point of the bizarre story is. Fortunately these slightly weaker segments are short and sweet and still very witty, and with the final twenty minutes of the show he’s back on impressive form with material which includes a theory about naming genitals that finally makes sense of the name of the show. And then like most of the best comics out there he ends with a truly beautiful moment which I won’t spoil, but which led the audience to laugh hard and cheer loudly.
At one point in the evening Andrews mentions that he gave up performing stand up for several years as the times a gig went poorly it affected him too much, and I truly hope he never has such an occurrence again as he’s an extremely funny man and a pretty unique comic who does the kind of material you weren’t hear anywhere else. He also performs most of the show with an empty bread bag on his head which is never really explained except that it’s oddly hilarious, a phrase which describes William Andrews perfectly too.
William Andrews is at the Soho Theatre until Saturday 13th of April and tickets can be bought here: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/william-andrews-willy/