Andrew Maxwell is a chatty man - he talks at speed - but he’s both funny and informed. He riffs on the weighty subjects of Scottish Independence, the Irish Potato Famine, sectarianism and his beloved Hibernian Football Club in a highly humorous, passionate manner. Agree or not, he knows what he’s talking about. Martin Walker distils his chat with a true satirist.
The ‘no’ campaign have really messed up though. ‘Better Together’? Sounds like something couples say to each other when they’re about to already split up.
“I’m about to start a mini tour of London. I was born in Ireland, but have lived in London for twenty years, so I thought I’d put all my stuff about England’s capital in one show. It’s called ‘London Loves’ and it’s at the new Peckham Liberal Club, plus the Bush Hall, Arcola Tent and the Comedy Cafe Theatre. They are all proper comedy venues rather than theatres. It’s a sort of experiment.
"After that I'm doing two nights at the Udderbelly Festival at the Southbank - on 14th June and 5th July. It's my show 'Banana Kingdom' which I love performing and is an audience favourite.
"I'm also doing 'Banana Kingdom' at Hop Farm and Latitude."
He’s returning to the Edinburgh Fringe this August for just twelve shows at the Assembly Rooms.
“Over the years I’ve done the Pleasance, the Assembly, the Gilded Balloon, and the Underbelly so I thought I’d give the Assembly Rooms a go. It’s being run by Tommy Sheppard of The Stand Comedy Club again this year and he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. The show’s called, ‘Hubble Bubble’ - it’s gonna be great.”
Tommy Sheppard is a well-known supporter of Scottish Independence. Does Andrew share that view?
“I see Scottish Nationalism as part of a wider separatist movement spreading across Europe. And nationalism is unhealthy. I don’t see the Scottish National Party as a left of centre party at all. People assume that because I’m from Ireland that I should support the separatists, but to compare the plight of the two nations at the hands of the English is absurd. There was no Scottish Potato Famine.
“The ‘no’ campaign have really messed up though. ‘Better Together’? Sounds like something couples say to each other when they’re about to already split up.”
Andrew tells me he’ll be discussing Scottish Independence, as well as the wider political scene, in ‘Hubble Bubble’.
“I’m not going to declare who I’m voting for, but I always vote. I’m not in favour of the Australian system where you have to vote. People should get informed and then vote with their heads. It concerns me sometimes that not enough people do.”
Another worry for Andrew is the plight of Hibernian football club, who are currently struggling near the bottom of the Scottish Premiership league table.
“Although I’m from Ireland, my family were originally from Edinburgh. My dad was a trade union organiser and so was my granddad. They lived close to Easter Road, so I was always going to gravitate towards Hibs. There are some great people at the club, with some very good players, but it doesn’t seem to be coming together for us at the moment.
“Because the Scottish football season starts in August, I always take in a game when I’m in Edinburgh at the Fringe. I did a couple of gigs at Easter Road Stadium last year, I love to do those. And they let me on the pitch at half time during the match to do the raffle!
“I hate the sectarianism of Scottish football though. Celtic and Rangers need to do more to challenge the bigots in my view. Hibs is a club that is proud of its Irish routes, but is non-sectarian.
“People in Scotland assume I’m from Edinburgh because of my name… I always get a laugh out of that.”
Andrew is a founder member of ‘Altitude’, a popular comedy festival held in the Alps every spring. But if he were curating a stand-up comedy TV show, who would be his guests?
“Comedy is comedy, and I don’t believe for a second that all comedy should be for me. I’m not personally into Michael McIntyre or Jim Davidson, but I know that lots of people are and that’s great.
“My favourite comedian was a guy called Patrice O’Neal. He was an American comic who was just brilliant. He had a stroke a few years ago and then died due to complications. The last special he did was just incredible.
“As for the TV show, to be honest I’d put on all my mates. I find that the people I hang out with are all very funny. I won’t name names in case I miss anyone out...”
Andrew Maxwell - Banana Kingdom
Andrew Maxwell in ‘London Loves’:
Andrew’s Edinburgh fringe show ‘Hubble Bubble’:
Patrice O’Neal website: