Andrew Maxwell at Soho Theatre

If you have to teach people at a gig, it’s not comedy

Andrew Maxwell at Soho Theatre Dubliner Andrew Maxwell talks about his topical style as he prepares to bring his Edinburgh Fringe show Yo Contraire to London’s Soho Theatre.

“I am looking forward to bringing the new show to London. I got married this year, and that in itself gives a comedian an excuse to use a whole extra hour of material,” he jokes.

“But yeah, it includes an hour or so of news and what is going on in the world, and then stuff about my life the past year and ends with a story about me ending up at an illegal party in the middle of the desert in the Middle East.

And no, that hasn’t happened in the past year since I got married.” The Dubliner has been dubbed as one of the champions of ‘cutting edge commentary’ and made quite a stir when he incorporated the London riots so quickly into his Edinburgh Fringe Festival show in 2011.

While everyone adapted their act to include a joke here or there, Maxwell was lauded for his last minute addition of 20 minutes of raucous commentary on the media hysteria surrounding the riots.

“Well you have to talk about what your audience understands.

This show was originally at Edinburgh so has a lot of Scottish-related content which is not as relevant to the London contingent, so you need to amend it slightly.

“I just like to talk about stuff that is happening right now, even if it means re-writing stuff on the eve of a show. You have to talk about what people know.

If you don’t talk about what people know, you’re in effect trying to teach them and that loses all comedic effect and turns into a lecture. And people can get lectured anywhere.

“I just try to make a connection with the audience. People often get overwhelmed by what’s in the news and that’s what’s great about comedy.” Maxwell has lived in London for the past 20 years and so can arouse a more authentic reaction from the audience rather than relying on ex-pat Irish jokes.

“It actually works in my favour quite a lot as people sometimes don’t know what to expect when they hear the Dublin accent.

But I’ve tended to stick in North London for most of my time here so I can just as easily put on a (puts on pretty credible Jafaican accent) badman voice, you get me?” Andrew is also excited about the renewal of his Altitude 2016 festival, which he founded with Marcus Brigstocke to great reception, 10 years ago and which takes part on the Alps in Mayrhofen in Austria.

“I can’t believe we’ve reached our 10th birthday. It seems like just yesterday myself and Marcus came up with this hare-brained idea and now look at it, one of the best festivals on the planet, and quite rightly, the world’s No.1 Alpine comedy festival, drawing some of the biggest comedians in the universe.

Bring on the slopes! “We launched it this weekend. It runs from January 11-15 and is basically just a week long piss up with great comedy acts. We have Sean Locke and John Bishop confirmed, with further acts to be announced over the coming weeks.”

• Yo Contraire is at the Soho Theatre from 17-21 November.


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