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Tony Law: A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome, 21st – 29th October 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre

| Art, Comedy | 21/10/2016


Tonight, award-winning absurdist comedian Tony Law brings his special brand of comedy-art to Leicester Square Theatre for seven nights of surreal silliness with new show A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome.  The Canadian, known as one of the most unique performers on the comedy circuit, whisks his audiences away on a trip into his imagination – a world of jokes, stories and performance art.

Although Law rarely disappoints, he told Ian Cater that he believes he’s back to his very best: welcome news from a true master of his craft.

Given the vast number of comedians holding microphones in pubs, theatres and stadia across London on any night of the week, it’s very hard to describe any as truly unique.  But in Tony Law’s case, the cap fits perfectly.  The Canadian – who’s lived in London for nearly 30 years and sees himself as a ‘citizen of the world’ – has perfected an unusual blend of comedy and absurdist art which audiences lap up without truly understanding the reasons.

polar_bear_35“That’s my real goal,” he acknowledges.  “To create an hour where everyone’s laughing – all of us – but nobody really knows why.  It’s like when you see a painting that you know nothing about and you think: ‘I really like that, but for reasons I can’t explain’.  So I try to combine that feeling with comedy.”

It’s a thoughtful approach to the sort of carefully-constructed chaos that’s won Law many fans – not to mention awards – since first arriving in London from rural Alberta as a 19-year-old.  But why did he decide to go down the route of surrealism?  Was it a style he grew up with or something that just came naturally to his character?

“We had a bit of Monthy Python when I was a kid, so I was definitely exposed to that humour.  But it also comes from living on a farm and not having a great vocabulary.  Being surreal helps you make your point in other ways … in fact, you know what: I like how you put it better.  That bit about appealing to my character.  Can you just attribute that to me?  Thanks.”

The Law of Nature

The chance to analyse Law’s craft is brief as – for much of the interview – he acts as wonderfully and chaotically absurd as in any of his shows, where audiences have to park their reality outside.  The same will undoubtedly apply to A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome.  However, it’s impossible to be certain of anything else from its title or baffling blurb.  I read it eight times without clarity, so made the mistake of asking Law to explain the show to me.

2016tonylax_au“Well, I suppose it is tricky to pin down,” he admits.  “But there are some themes.  Number one is to be funny.  Number two is to do that in an interesting and unique way.”  So far, so good.  “And number three is to move forward by looking back.”

And then he’s off.  “So I look back to when I was a prisoner of Stalin’s.  I mean briefly: I don’t talk about Stalin much.  And – you know – there’s regret in there too.  I regret being one of the first people to train orcas to perform for people at Sea World.  Looking back, it was a different time.  We didn’t know it was wrong.  And I reminisce about the good times too, like when I was a semi-professional trampolinist in the 1970s.”

Law pauses for breath.  A light chuckle comes down the phone.  “It’s all pretty heavily metaphored, I’ve been told.  But it makes perfect sense to me, so that’s good news.”

The best news is that Law sees the show as a return to the form of 2012 when, he says, he was “really firing on all cylinders, before going off-piste”.  He’s reluctant to rehash his well-documented health issues since then, but sums it up as follows:  “It feels like I’m back on the right chairlift to the top of the mountain with the great views and black diamond runs.  The previous lift was taking me across the border into Switzerland, where I don’t even like to ski.”

Law and Order

With clearer focus, Law’s been able to dedicate more time to constructing this bout of chaos.  “It’s got a much tighter core than the last few,” he says.  “There’s that whole Led Zeppelin thing about ‘being tight to be loose’.  I kinda agree with that.  So it’s carefully written, the preparation’s been good and it allows me to clown around more again.”

fullsizerender-web-crop3That extends to his wardrobe which also reflects Law’s individualism.  “I’m glad you asked about that,” he says, sounding genuinely delighted.  “It’s pretty much your working class, blue-collar flight suit.  All the family got involved, sewing on airplanes and other decals.  I’ve got a meerkat on it.  I might wear a hat.  And I’ve got my trusty work gloves.

“It’s perfect for the show.  But I also do a lot of rhythmic gymnastics – which I invented a while ago – and the suit doesn’t allow my full repertoire, so I can only give a little taster of that.”  He pauses.  I wonder whether he’s going to continue.  “I work with the ribbon, that’s what I won golds for.  I was never that good with just the ball.  I’m a ribbon guy really.  When are you seeing the show?  I’ll make sure there’s lots of ribbon.”

Before going our separate ways – both of us smiling, not really knowing why – I ask Law about his future plans.  He answers with typical mystery: “I’m going to concentrate on the internet and make my dog a YouTube star.  I’ll probably try to do some gigs for cash, keep things fresh and then prepare for taking the show on tour in March 2017.  And there are some other things, but they’re too secret to share.”

Tony Law is performing ‘A Law Undo His-Elf What Welcome’ at 21.30 between 21st and 29th October 2016 at Leicester Square Theatre (except 23rd and 24th).  For tickets, head here.  For more information on Tony’s upcoming national tour, see his official website and follow him on Twitter @MrTonyLaw.

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