Surreal comedy treads a fine line; it either seems to work emphatically or leave the audience bemused and alienated, and what with his nomination for Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award at this year's festival, expectations have been raised even higher for Tony Law. Not phased by this increased pressure however, and after years of honing his craft, Tony Law's Maximum Nonsense is as good as surreal comedy gets.
Law alternates between peculiar imagery and bizarre flights of fancy and the self referential as he deconstructs his own routine whilst performing it. He frequently breaks from the chaotic narrative of Maximum Nonsense to indulge in meta-comedy, pointing out uncomfortable non-sequiturs and his lack of one liners, before bringing the whole show to a close with an extended joke about his apparent inability to finish a joke.
Law finds time to take well-aimed swipes at audience 'banter', observational comedy and shock comedians whilst not breaking from the absurdist theme that runs throughout. A hugely entertaining story about an imprisoned uncle of his turning into a fire-breathing dragon is a very well-observed criticism of the current trend of comedians to introduce a more poignant or emotional aspect to their show. This deconstruction can at times feel perhaps a little too self congratulatory and a little too littered with comedy in-jokes, but for the most part he is rightfully exposing the limitations of his less talented contemporaries.
After an hour or so of Law's shtick, you end up feeling vaguely like you've been hallucinating, and indeed there'll be some who never quite make the journey with Law, never quite reaching his wavelength, such is the abstract and downright bizarre tone of the show. However, for those that do, Law is a manic, lively and incredibly original comedian.
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