The Stand Comedy Club
Tuesday October 14th
Tony Law bounds onstage, brandishing a trumpet wildly, his thinning black leotard festooned with assorted tat. There’s no support act: he doesn’t need one, two thirds of the audience are avid fans, and the rest are swept along by his manic energy. Law carries himself like a merrily deranged tramp who’s mistaken the bottle-bank for a cocktail lounge, and you -the terrified stranger he’s trapped into conversation- for his bosom chum. “It’s YOU!” Law cries delightedly at folk in the audience, remembering times they’ve shared “way back” getting high at the gates of Troy, or crusading about the Middle-Ages together. He ricochets between funny voices -which often argue between themselves- and fellates the microphone, making it honk like a fog-horn. We’re all laughing, but I’m not sure what at, really. “I don’t know why either,” shrugs Law, seconds later, as if in response. That gets a big laugh too.
Maybe it’s the relief. He’s no “worthy” comic come to lecture us. Law does skits on those current affairs conversations where you realise you know nothing, nothing, and can only desperately agree, hoping no-one notices: “Ya ya me too” he booms like a caveman, one we would feel safe going for a pint with. Many jokes seem geared specifically towards exhausted young parents. An Octonauts reference goes down well, as does an attack on businessmen who get annoyed about young children on trains. Some bits seem more suited to the toddlers themselves, a bemused but willing audience member is pulled onstage to toss a beach ball to and fro with Tony, whose facial expressions throughout would delight any pre-verbal child, but fall a little flat for even some of the diehard fans. It goes on, and on. “It gets funny again after fifteen minutes,” Law assures us, but fortunately doesn’t attempt to prove it.
Pleasingly, Law isn’t wildly enthusiastic about his wildly enthusiastic fans, you can’t imagine him coaxing young sycophants into the toilets after the show with a bag of cocaine and the promise of reflected glory. He actually heckles an audience member for laughing excessively. She loves it, and loves him regardless, shouting “we still love you, Tone Zone” moments later when he inadvertently snags a rubber snake on the lighting rig.
Because Tony Law is as likable as he is strange, no one minds when he chuckles to himself at aborted jokes, then doesn’t share them; or performs five minutes of his act to the back wall, leaving us nothing to stare at but his lycra-clad bottom; or does throwbacks to material from old shows. Everyone loves it. Everyone but Tone Zone. A lot of his act consists of apologising for the rest of it, he grimaces at his own jokes, breaks off for yogic breathing and makes repeated references to mental breakdown which -amid the laughs- illicit noises of genuine concern. Ultimately, looking for the method in the madness may just be another type of madness. If you like being bemused as much as amused, you’ll love your time in the Tone Zone, and the die-hard fans never want to leave it. Tony Law is a flawed, but thoroughly engaging dude. FOUR STARS
Reviewer : Katie Craig