Area 51, Brexit, holding midfielders and bouncy castles. There is an odd pattern here against the political backdrop of this show, tied together by the toothy grin of a cheery, well-travelled Irish comedian. Undeniably, the seasoned professional Andrew Maxwell is as funny as he is charming, bundling together a show of politics with lived experiences across the globe in a journey through contemporary global affairs.
The seasoned professional Andrew Maxwell is as funny as he is charming.
Maxwell transports you from Holyrood and Westminster to the shores of Ireland with witty comments in line with both present-day concerns and past grievances, particularly with his ruminations on the Irish border and the Troubles. Next, Polynesia and New Zealand follow with crowd-pleasing jibes regarding the Kiwi police force, until we are transported to Australia to regard sport and refugee policies. With a careful hand, Maxwell enters Israel and Palestine though not to as great a lengths as other locations. His time there is short, a sensible choice but an issue he nonetheless skewers with great artistry. In recounting his infamous encounter with New Mexico's police force, and his challenge to an Oregon alien worshipper (yes, you heard right), the comedy comes full circle and gifts you with a wider perspective of the world outside of the George Square Lecture Theatre.
‘Shake a Fist’ may be a more fitting title to Maxwell’s show. The political commentary – whilst a remainer’s idea of a wet dream – is at times long-winded, and often accompanied by an almost exasperated concern for issues that don’t directly impact him. For instance, Maxwell's well-liked jokes about religion leads to an elongated section of concern for the Jews, which felt like he was going to great lengths to prove he is not anti-Semitic. It’s not the reason for doing so, admirable as it may be, but simply that it unnecessarily cuts into his time and deals the show’s momentum a significant blow. He remerged from this with enamoured vigour whilst recounting his priceless experiences in America and his run-in with the law. Things were winding down and it seemed like he was going to end, but Maxwell began again with an added rant, this time about internet trolls. His longer jokes paid off in the end, but it nonetheless saw him go over by ten minutes which is where it risked credibility. Maxwell confessed that 'there's no real conclusion to the show', and indeed there wasn't; the last couple of minutes felt muddled and unsure. But he managed to redeem this by ending on a high note with a crack about his own 17-year-old son.
I wanted to give him more, but there was something lacking on the night of this performance that left him shy of an extra star. The Irish comic doesn’t fully brim with unwavering confidence until he drops the melodramatics. That said, it is not so much content but his progression. In the future, I’d suggest Maxwell play to his anecdotal strengths and stick to his political guns with condensed jokes that gather more momentum than the stop-start model. But being a midweek showing might have had something to do with this. As Maxwell himself aptly notes, “Who the f*** goes out on a Wednesday?”