Lewis Schaffer: Success Is Not An Option

Lewis Schaffer, a 57 year old New York Jew, greets each audience member with a warm handshake as they walk into the dingy, dubiously smelling venue of Lewis Schaffer: Success Is Not An Option. Shepherding unruly stair sitters into uncomfortable seats before taking a knee in the unoccupied front row, he explains “this is probably going to be shit.”

Come with few expectations and leave having had them gently surpassed.

Having 22 years stand-up experience, a fair amount of resentment for his ex-wife (possibly invented) and the Edinburgh Fringe, Schaffer is a man seemingly content to bitterly ramble himself through an unstructured 45 minutes. Teetering only inches from the audience and flecking us with a fair amount of comedy bile, Schaffer is at his funniest when lending his bumbling, nonchalant approach to his vindictive side. Splitting the audience down Scottish and English lines, he boldly suggests we can all fuck off and are irrelevant. In the near saturated market of stand-up at the Edinburgh Fringe, Schaffer’s willingness to alienate his wage payers is refreshing.

Although criticism of his audience is left to one side following the somewhat muted reaction to this joke, Schaffer continues his nonchalant approach in rambling through a selection of potentially dangerous topics from 9/11 to the awkwardness of being a Jew in the current political climate. As the show progresses Schaffer recycles one particular Woody Allen crack several times, the joke stirring the audience into fevered fits of giggles as it becomes a refrain. At this point Schaffer decides to have a sit down and a little break. The audience relax into a contemplative silence and listen to the raucous affair taken place in the room next door. “Are we allowed to go over there yet?” asks a well dressed man in the second row, prompting the biggest laugh of the evening.

Deciding enough is enough Schaffer pops his microphone back onto the stand and wanders to the back of the room to large applause. Although hilarity did not exactly abound, with his laid back demeanour and acerbic wit Schaffer appears as a largely loveable Stewart Lee albeit with a severe case of apathy. Come with few expectations and leave having had them gently surpassed. 

Reviews by Milo Boyd

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The Blurb

Be prepared. Lewis Schaffer isn't. An hour of your life you'll never get back. A lifetime of his completely wasted. Star of Resonance FM's Nunhead American Radio. 'Disconcertingly terrific. Compelling, unique and most of all unpredictable' (Bruce Dessau, BeyondtheJoke.co.uk). 'An hilarious, cathartic, exhilaratingly appalling experience' **** (Kate Copstick, Scotsman). 'The logical conclusion of all stand-up comedy' (Daniel Kitson). ‘A skilled, masterful and above-all, eye-wateringly funny guy. If you consciously choose not to see him, don’t bother coming to the Fringe' **** (Chortle.co.uk). 'Unlike anything else on the comedy circuit.' (Time Out). www.lewisschaffer.co.uk www.pay-what-you-want.info