Andrew Maxwell: 'You can say anything to an audience as long as it's true'
- Brian Donaldson
- 27 February 2020
The acclaimed and near-veteran Irish comic takes Reality on tour
On Channel 4 in 2004, he was voted King of Comedy, and on ITV at the tail end of 2019, he was a contestant on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. These reality TV experiences will have informed Andrew Maxwell as he tours the UK with his new show, the appropriately titled Reality. Here he tells us about our censorious times, comedy goals and serious acting.
What was the best thing about your appearance on the most recent I'm A Celebrity?
Apparently there's nothing that can kill me. And with going out early, you have a solid week in the Versace Hotel, there's therapy, and then sunshine for a week in a five-star hotel: that'll do it. Also, I was delighted to get out of the country to avoid all that general election hoopla. I'm glad in that I have something else than the current political situation to talk about. There's enough there to not talk directly about Trump and Brexit, though the thing to talk about is the whole post-truth situation we're in and the whole culture around it.
Where do you stand in the debate about whether we do or don't live in severely censorious times?
If you live your life by 140 characters then discretion is the better part of valour. Onstage you can say what you want because the audience will rebuke you immediately if you're wrong by not laughing or perhaps booing. I've always thought that you can say anything to an audience as long as it's true. I use a maths analogy here: show your workings. You don't just do your answers but you show in the margins how you came to that conclusion. In stand-up, you have to hit the punchline but if you're willing to back that up to a member of the fourth estate or a heckler, then people will trust you if you have the knowledge at hand.
You've been around the stand-up block, but do you still have goals for your comedy?
I've done stand up since I was 17, so it literally is just what I do. It's about getting better at it, being braver. You get to a level of expertise in your field but with our job, you have to get better, there's no standing still.
Last August, you performed a one-man multi-character theatre show entitled Julius 'Call Me Caesar' Caesar. How was that for you, and has it whetted the old appetite for more serious acting?
People down the years have asked whether I fancied doing a bit of acting and I took that as flattering. But I didn't have time to learn this craft though I have always been curious about it, and about Stanislavski and Brecht, but nothing had come along where I could do that and my main job. But when this came along I thought a one-man play was better because I didn't want to be this guy with no formal training with people on stage who do have that and me fucking it up. It had audience interaction it it and quick changes of characters which is essentially sort-of what I do. But I massively underestimated exactly how much my peers had really been putting the effort in.
Andrew Maxwell: Reality is on tour until Monday 8 June.