Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 04/11/2019.
At his best Tony Law is one of the best comedians this or any country has to offer, an unpredictable, gloriously unconventional and idiosyncratic man who is deliriously funny at times. He’s slightly erratic when it comes to consistency though, some of his sets are hilarious from start to finish but during others the level of quality can fluctuate a little, and that’s definitely the case with Identifies, his latest full length show.
Tony’s undoubtedly aware of this and comments upon it a couple of times, along with the fact that right now he’s not being wooed by tv companies, despite his spending a year wearing sexy skin tight white jeans and doing whatever he can to be more attractive to them. But they just don’t seem to be interested in his brand of comedy, of his tales of travelling back in time to Russia in the 1840’s and being a steamboat captain and a stand up comic performing to tiny audiences made up of aristocrats, and television is all the lesser for it.
That said it is a little frustrating that there is the odd segment that either doesn’t go anywhere or just doesn’t work. A song performed near the beginning of the show about Pol Pot will make you smile then, but nothing more than that, and a snippet of interpretative dance falls flat too. Also, somewhat oddly, is that when he tackles the subject of the show’s title head on it’s the weakest segment, and when he talks about his mother’s dementia he doesn’t really make anything out of it.
Luckily these elements are only a minor part of the show and much of the rest is joyous comedy indeed, from a beautifully funny story about a trip back to 25,000 BC and the fear that his dog Wolfy might eat hominids, to his confusion over the time he wrote the words “Testicle Mince” and yet has no idea why. There’s also some insightful Brexit material that even though it didn’t mirror my own experience made me laugh hard, and the song he ends with is a truly fantastic one too.
So though Law questions his place in the comedy world he’s clearly not resting on his laurels, and if anything he’s becoming more playful and inventive over time as he performs in a variety of accents and the physical side of his comedy is stronger than ever too. And even if this isn’t Law at his very best it’s still an essential bit of comedy, and a show which tackles an impressive number of ideas and themes in a hilariously absurd manner.
Tony’s Official Site is here.