Tony Law has been one of my favourite comedians for well over a decade now, ever since I saw him headline a small gig and perform such inspired madness that I never wanted him to leave the stage. Since then each time I’ve seen his ramshackle brand of exasperatingly daft stand up it’s always been unpredictable, strange and stunning, but I have to confess to not having seen him for a couple of years as he went through a stage of struggling when it came to alcohol and drugs and pulled out of gigs I had tickets for at the last moment.
He talks about his issues with alcohol and drugs during the show, along with the therapy he’s received, and pleasingly seems to be doing much, much better on those fronts. But for the first time it was an hour of comedy from Mr Tony that I didn’t find myself adoring, it still has some undoubtedly fantastic moments and when Law is on form there’s nothing quite like him, but it’s a show which is very uneven in quality and has parts which just don’t work.
As with most of his stand up shows he provides a running commentary as to how it’s going on, but this time around he doesn’t seem to notice when jokes don’t quite work or don’t get much of a reaction from the audience. So while there’s some dry observations about the nature of his comedy, with him suggesting “A lot of us just go to see if he’s okay”, a couple of routines (one where he sings about a toy space bear especially) really could have benefited from Tony mentioning that it was a bit of a misfire and riffing on how to improve it like he’s done in the past.
It’s a shame because there are many moments that made me laugh hard, his discussion of his mental health issues is extremely strong, with the line “Therapists don’t like it when you only talk about World War II” and his suggestion that he doesn’t want to be too adjusted being very funny stuff, as was the comment “My wife says now you are sober you need to start dressing it”. Other parts which worked well were a section on how after a DNA test he discovered his was 8% Neanderthal, a daft bit about how between 1pm and 3pm he’s super right-wing, and how thanks to time travel he was present “The day we domesticated the dogs…I was there at the meeting”.
Law’s still one of the best comedians around when he’s on the top of his game, and due to the nature of his improvising a fair bit of his material on the day perhaps this was just one of those times where a show didn’t quite work as well as it normally did. But if true it’s a shame that it happened on a day it was being recorded, and will cost you £12 to buy, and I’d suggest not really bothering with this and paying that amount to see him live instead as this really isn’t him at his best.