In 2004 Lawrence won a BBC New Comedy Award. A talented stand-up, who enjoyed the appreciation of his peers.
If you’re prepared to have your outlook challenged, even ridiculed, for comic effect, you’ll love this.
Ten years later, in the middle of the night he posted a long blog which looked critically at the state of the UK comedy ‘industry’ and political comedy in particular. He had a go at lazy left wing comedians’ UKIP bashing and attacked satirical BBC panel shows.
Suddenly, Lawrence was a pariah. Some suggested that he was drunk, or attention seeking, whilst a few of his fellow comics thought he’d gone properly mad. Social media burst with almost universal condemnation. Those that argue for greater tolerance of other cultures and races couldn’t stand – it turned out – people who disagree with them. Seeing an easy bandwagon, I too had a go. I was wrong.
Lawrence stuck to his guns and kept being funny. And judging by tonight’s stunning performance, if anything, a couple of years on, this lefty backlash has made him funnier.
Andrew Lawrence: The Hate Speech Tour addresses terrorism, victim culture, race, class and gender as he continues to rally against what he perceives as hypocrisy in dominant left wing thinking. He also makes the point, strongly, that sticks and stones may break bones, but words hurt nobody. That said, anyone coming to the show expecting racist or misogynistic rants à la Chubby Brown or Bernard Manning will be disappointed. This is intelligently crafted comedy, in turns nuanced and brutal. It’s fearless. It’s funny. It’s full of really good jokes.
Lawrence is a free thinker, as all the best satirical comedians are. But because he’s asking different questions to most, the answers are different too. A more diverse range of views is what political comedy needs. The Daily Show with Andrew Lawrence would be brilliant.
So, if you’re on the left and want to have your existing views echoed back to you from a stage, go elsewhere. If you’re prepared to have your outlook challenged, even ridiculed, for comic effect, you’ll love this. Does Lawrence mean even half of what he says? I don’t care, I’m not being asked to vote for him. Should he ever become Prime Minister, I’d leave. But I’d be laughing at the UK news from my safe space on the moon.