Preview: Andrew Maxwell on Tour

Andrew Maxwell

Dubliner Andrew Maxwell has lived in London for 20 years and to mark the occasion he has decided to do a tour of his adopted city. It’s not a big tour, running to just three more dates over the next week, but it is a nice tribute to the city and it means he gets to sleep in his own bed after each show. It started last night in the wood-panelled Peckham Liberal Club, which looks like it hasn’t changed since Jeremy Thorpe was the Liberal Party leader. It's about a mile from where I live and I’ve never heard of a stand-up gig happening there so it felt downright rude not to go. 

Maxwell explained at the start that the plan was to cram all of the London gags he had cracked over the years into one show. This sounded like a good idea all round - it would give the show a theme and would save him having to write new material. As it turned out he seemed too easily distracted to stick to his agenda in the first half, maybe because the lights were a little bright. A Belfast barman wandering in got him riffing on the subject of Irish accents and how menacing the northern ones can sound. Then somewhere along the way he ended up talking about Paris, Tokyo and how sexy even ugly Brazilians are. So much for London getting a look-in.

It was only when he encountered a Polish man in the audience that he got back on track with his well-honed quip about how hard-working the Poles are. When Maxwell's boiler packed up he called a Warsaw handyman to ask him when he could come and received the reply: “I’m on your roof”. After some more shooting the breeze without quite hitting his stride the pint-sized Irishman shrewdly decided to take a break and gather his thoughts over his half-time orange segments.

The interval worked wonders for both the performer and audience. The crowd seemed to have warmed up and Maxwell certainly warmed to his theme. While there weren’t many insights that were particularly Peckham-inspired, there were certainly many that resonated, as he mourned the rise of the hipster and yearned for the old days of the good old London geezer. They might be a bit rough or racist, but they are part of what gives London its character, he noted.

It was these geezer gags that hit the most bullseyes. His story of getting some minor work done on his car and not knowing what to pay when the mechanic said “that’ll be a drink” was priceless. He also dusted off his tale of doing his late, lamented Full Mooners Club at the haunted theatre in Alexandra Palace, where the beefy security guard even made ghosts sound like illegal immigrants: “they sneak in through the walls”.

Quietly political routines about gastropubs, gentrification and oligarchs buying up the capital also struck the right comic notes and there was a great anecdote about how Maxwell’s London-born middle class son has turned into Little Lord Fauntleroy despite having a "scumbag" for a dad. There were also some lovely bits of inside information. I’ve lived here for a lot longer than Maxwell and I didn’t know that the Cutty Sark is the best place to spot Portuguese tourists. I didn’t know about the orgies in Knightsbridge either – and if you want to know more about them you’ll have to buy a ticket for this show. 

Andrew Maxwell’s London Loves tour goes to Shepherds Bush, Dalston and Shoreditch. Details here.

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