Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Q&A: Andrew Lawrence

The English stand-up comedian (34), described as a 'supreme misfit', will be bringing his brand of edgy humour to Northern Ireland this weekend

By Rachael Adamson

Are you looking forward to coming to Belfast and Londonderry this weekend?

Yeah, I am, I think I've done three years on the road now on tour and I always take the show to Northern Ireland.

Northern Irish comedy crowds tend to be quite tough and demanding . Are you sure you're ready for us?

I haven't found what I'd say is a tough crowd here. People have shouted things out, which is fine, as I'm quite an interactive comedian anyway – it all adds to the show.

I find it tough going to places where it's a little bit too polite, formal and inhibited. I think it works better for stand-up when people join in.

You've been described as quite pessimistic in your material. Does that always make for better comedy than being happy all the time?

I think that all good comedians operate on instinct, going on stage and doing what they think is funny. I'm sort of inclined to go on stage with a slightly 'wishful' world view, perhaps, and I'm quite good at finding the negatives to dwell on in a facetious, exaggerated way.

The worst thing you can do as a comic when starting out is to try and be like someone else. You know yourself, your own personality, character and what's funny about you, and come up with your own ideas.

Is that the advice you'd give to somebody trying to break into comedy?

I think it's far easier if you're doing something original. People that work in TV and comedy production, they see a lot of the same things.

There's a lot of comics who are fairly imitative and doing things by numbers, and you can do a very good job doing a comedy club gig and make an audience laugh and get paid by the end of the night. But to do well and stand out, you have be doing your own thing because in TV, people are looking for something a bit different.

You also like to shock with some of your material. Isn't that just an easy way to get a bit of attention?

That's not what I set out to do. I just come up with ideas that I think are funny and make the audience laugh. I'm not really setting out to shock people or to deliberately say anything with shock value, but I suppose different people are offended by different things.

A lot of your comedy is to do with the antagonisms of everyday life. What would be your top bugbears?

People pushing in front of me in queues, being stuck in traffic, unwanted text messages from someone trying to sell you something, or credit card companies very early in the mornings or on weekends.

It takes a lot of guts to be a stand-up comedian. Is there anything you do fear, though, in work or real life?

Of course, I'm scared of the same things as everyone else, getting ill, money troubles, someone breaking into my house in the middle of the night. When I started out certainly I was scared of getting up on stage, but you lose that very quickly.

What's the best heckle you've ever received? And your best put-down in response?

I don't really tend to remember them really. I like it when people shout something out, as it's an opportunity to connect with the audience. I just tend to improvise around it. A lot of the time they just want to be part of the show, it's not a kind of malevolent thing.

So, just embrace it?

Absolutely, it can really add to the show and that's the good thing about live stand-up – every show is a unique experience.

Andrew is at the Playhouse, Londonderry, tonight and the Waterfront Studio, Belfast, tomorrow. See venues for details

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