A few hours before his show, Andrew Lawrence gets embroiled in a slightly unedifying Twitter exchange with Rufus Hound. He’s made a joke about leftist comedians, and left it to float in the ether like the turd in the pool in Caddyshack. It escalates. Lawrence comes across as needlessly aggressive; Hound placatory (until it becomes apparent what a barbed compliment the phrase, ‘You used to be extraordinary’ actually is).
During his show, Lawrence returns to the subject of social media. As one of the few prominent right-of-centre comedians who is not Jim Davidson or Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown, he’s been pilloried on these platforms for voicing opinions that, in his view, don’t fit the approved left-wing comedic agenda. He berates the leftist hive-mind. There is a slight glimpse of the victim card hidden up Lawrence’s sleeve, but he is absolutely essential.
The enemy of comedy is consensus, and Lawrence is the type of A-grade, eloquent, relatable misanthrope that we get all too rarely. He genuinely doesn’t care if you like him, and has nothing but disdain for the stand-up “industry”; capitalist conformity masquerading as anti-establishment posturing.
It’s actually a real shame that his politics are the main talking point, as beyond any extraneous concerns, Lawrence is simply very, very funny. His timing is great, and his constant, beleaguered shuffle around the stage is at odds with his sharp wit. His other chief asset is integrity. He has resolutely stuck to his principles, and although his political arguments can be picked apart, there is something bracing and refreshing about hearing them voiced in a comedic context.
This is confrontational, arguably really rather brave stand-up. Lawrence is happy to name names and point fingers at who he sees as the chief culprits of the PC smothering; and it’s hard to argue against the likes of his take down of Frankie Boyle’s liberal credentials when weighed against that particular comedy grandee’s previous targets. We’ve all become centralised, and in the bizarre political climate in which we live where an old-fashioned social democrat like Jeremy Corbyn is portrayed as the second coming of Trotsky, it’s easy to see a “small c” conservative like Lawrence being “Godwinned” into silence. Surely that’s not what comedy, and particularly the Fringe should be about.