Edinburgh Review: Liam Williams

Liam Williams

Laughing Horse @ Cellar Monkey

****

Liam Williams of sketch group Sheeps made a splash last year with his solo debut, picking up a Foster’s Best Newcomer nomination. Since then he as gathered a fair old following for his dour, deadpan gripes against society and this lunchtime Free Fringe show has been packed since the first day of the festival. I’m not sure if his second solo show is better than his first, but then his first was pretty bloody good.

There is something about Williams that grabs your attention. Where others sup a pint onstage, he sups a pint and eats a chocolate flake. He has a deep, resonant voice that fills the room. And he wears his northern accent with pride.

But I guess it’s what he says that really does the trick. The show, entitled Capitalism, lays out Williams’ weary view of the world. Basically that we are all fucked. The globe is going to the dogs, largely because of our rampant, venal, inane, insane pursuit of meaningless wealth. He is a bit of an old-fashioned Orwell-loving lefty but even despairs of his fellow radicals. He recalls going to a rally where Tony Robinson was speaking and every time the Blackadder star made a suggestion someone shouted out Baldrick’s catchphrase.

Williams is angry at the world, but talks with a resigned smile. He spends a lot of the show taking swipes at everything from Weatherspoon pubs to mega-corporations such as Google, who get it in the neck for their slogan, “don’t be evil”. Elsewhere he takes a bit of time exploring the relentless march of pornography and how it affects relationships and is hard to resist. It’s a familiar riff, but extremely well-told.

A running theme is the film Fight Club, which I guess echoes his own beliefs about consumerism and false consciousness. Williams gets plenty of comic mileage out of explaining that he has tried all sorts of things to be happy, from meditation to cognitive behaviour therapy. He also has a few set-pieces which shake up the deadpan delivery. He doesn't offer a solution to society's ills, except to hint that maybe being in love takes your mind off the collapse of civilisation. But even if he doesn't have any answers, it is exciting to hear comedian posing some important questions.

 

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