Slight Return feels like an able comedian winging it.
Maxwell opens with some comfortable audience chat and a bit of off-the-cuff bantering about different nationalities and the Olympics: like the rest of the hour, it’s well-delivered but predictable. Much of the material consists of statements or simple references, relying on laughs of recognition at contemporary buzzwords like Tinder rather than crafting set-ups rewarded with a punchline. Maxwell’s stage swagger is a little grating given the familiarity of the material, and the swearing begins to feel like a way of making fairly conventional observations seem palatably subversive.
“People just aren’t interested,” he tells us, though there’s not enough political insight here to redress the balance. Slight Return isn’t quite as incisive as Maxwell’s manner would suggest, which is a shame given his track record. He comments that he isn’t phased by audiences who disagree with him, but here stale comments about Jeremy Corbyn are so devoid of political bite there isn’t really anything to disagree with. The humour often feels outdated and the targets misjudged. Maxwell is most likeable when poking fun at his native Ireland or interacting with the audience, suggesting a warmer side to a show which often feels like it’s punching down.
Maxwell is clearly a talented performer but the material lets him down on this occasion. By his own admission, the performance is an excuse for his children to return to Edinburgh this year, but from such an established comic it could do with a little more crafting: Slight Return feels like an able comedian winging it.