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From the Irish backstop to having a sauna, it's comedy gold
Comedian Andrew Maxwell described it as his weirdest ever stand-up gig even before he'd started. So it was that the Dublin-born Irish comic closed the annual Lichfield Festival by performing in a deconsecrated church that now houses Lichfield's main library. And what seemed to make it even stranger for Andrew, who claimed to have driven five hours from his home on the Kent coast to reach Staffordshire, is that the early evening sun was beaming down through a beautiful stained glass window behind him. As he confessed: "This is very weird for all of us, not least because I'm not used to doing gigs in daylight." Andrew, who is perhaps best known for being the narrator of the MTV reality television series, Ex on the Beach, was also faced with a small audience of less than 50 people just a couple of feet away in this very intimate show, held in the former St Mary's Church.
The one-time Edinburgh Fringe Festival comedy award nominee began his excellent hour-long set by claiming he'd spent the last 20 minutes taking all the "swear words" out of his material due to the ecclesiastical setting (although it soon transpired that he hadn't!). What he did produce was an impressive collection of largely funny personal stories and political observations, made all the more interesting because he reveals that he is an Irish Methodist married to an Egyptian Muslim. Politics, and Brexit in particular, are never far from his mind, with an obvious emphasis on the problematic issue of the border between north and south. He clearly has no time for the leading politicians of the day, both right and left, and reckons he is "living in a sitcom" given his flag-waving, pro-Brexit neighbours.
The former St Mary's Church proved an interesting setting
But, despite the constraints of just one hour in which to make his mark, Andrew also finds a number of other issues and topics in which to find humour in. These range from getting the audience to hum, to experiences as diverse as taking a sauna in Finland to the joys of fatherhood (he has three children). Andrew also extols the delights of German beer and one supermarket issue brand in particular. Apparently, it is the only reaction he gets on Twitter after his shows, with members of the audience either forgetting the beer, or the supermarket, or both! Fortunately, I wrote them down and bought a couple of cans on the way home to try.
Verdict Andrew Maxwell 4 out of 5 The beer 4.5 out of 5