Sunday, 17 August 2014

Review: Lewis Schaffer - Success is Not An Option

What would happen if HP Lovecraft did an Edinburgh Fringe show? In a couple of years the University of Kettering comedy society will present their attempt at an answer - 'Krazy Kthulhu's Komedy Khaos'. It'll be serviceable. But to actually translate raw existential horror into an hour of stand up? What kind of sick mind could manage it?

Lewis Schaffer presents an hour long 'stand up' 'comedy' 'show'. This is the fifth gig of his I’ve seen, and it’s never the same, but also never changes. There’s little in the way of material to reuse anyway. He half-heartedly gestures at a shabby looking piece of paper, but whether there were ever any jokes written on it seems beside the point.

To advertise, to put up posters or to hand out flyers would ruin the game. The audience contains about 12 people, at least half of whom he knows and claims to dislike personally. He abandons the stage to sit among us, partly to break down barriers between audience and performer, and partly to block the exit. As we plummet downwards through the evening, the gig comes to resemble a funeral for the very idea of stand up. Schaffer plays the role of a faithless priest who always hated the bitch anyway.

The show doesn't come to an end, there's no key change for a big finale, no catharsis or moment of inspiration, eventually he just releases his captives and we all move on with our lives. I’m not sure if it was funny, I’m not sure if it was clever, and I’m not sure if I enjoyed it, but Lewis Schaffer is one of the few truly essential experiences on the Fringe. A living piece of performance art, a walking meditation on failure, a warning to every poor young thing with dreams of a slot on Comedy Roadshow. The fetid picture in the attic of comedy.


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