The liberal commentariat and Andrew Lawrence have been rubbing each other up the wrong way so long now, you wonder if it’s some long-term mutual publicity pact. Lawrence gets his kicks getting Guardianista knickers in a twist, Guardianistas get the fuzzy feeling of self-righteousness responding to him, both get a boost to their twitter stats. On this evidence, though, you hang your head with how little it takes to enrage delicate liberal sensibilities. Yeah, Lawrence minces no words, but he’s no Bernard Manning, or Roy “Chubby” Brown, or Hitler.
To the extent that tonight’s show is offensive, it’s equal opportunities offensive. The guy hates everyone. “Fuck who you want, just don’t go on about it,” he says when discussing PDAs. That applies whether you’re straight or gay. Slut males get given a particularly nasty solution for their urges.
And there’s nothing done from ignorance. He knows very well the arguments made by Guardian readers, he understands the issues that concern them. He just begs to differ. Thus he takes aim at the millennials complaining about the Tories and not being able to get on the housing ladder. Anyone with a flat-screen TV and a Sky package is not really that poor, and the old are not really the bad guys in this picture. They just got off their arthritic backsides to vote, and the young didn’t. He even puts himself in the frame as one of society’s feckless losers for having done a pointless arts degree. You might not agree with this, but it’s amusingly done, and if you can’t handle your own cosy assumptions being dismantled for comedy purposes, that reflects more on the audience than the performer. Lawrence might not even believe half of this himself, as he makes perfectly clear in a pre-show voiceover.
There’s half a dozen walkouts tonight, across different incidents, which is surprising and petty. Because from a comedy perspective, if there’s one problem with this gig, it’s that it never gets edgy enough. It doesn’t quite feel like it hits top gear, it never really gets hackles rising. That said, Lawrence unleashes some decent rants, and a couple are greeted with applause.
He makes play of being in an “isolated” venue – to avoid any ISIS terrorist incidents that might take out other comedians. Of course, gag aside, the Roxy isn’t really isolated from the rest of the Fringe geographically – it’s across the road from the Pleasance. But up here in the rafters with a frostier audience than normal and indignation hovering overhead, it does seem isolated culturally. All of which leaves The Hate Speech Tour feeling refreshingly nihilistic and different. For laughs and entertainment, rather than a comedy cuddle for your bruised political ideals, it’s not half bad.