Sunday, 18 August 2013

Lewis Schaffer is Free Until Famous ****

When you hear people say a comedian is one of a kind it's generally not true. There will always be other comedians with the same shtick, doing similar material or acting in a similar manner on stage. Unless they are talking about Lewis Schaffer. In that case, they are right. Lewis Schaffer is truly one of a kind.

I first encountered him at Shaggers in around 2008. It was the start of the Fringe and it was pretty quiet. There were only about 25 people in the show until around 16 American teenagers walked in. Within two minutes, much to the dismay of Nik Coppin the compere and promoter, they had all walked back out because Lewis Schaffer had just told the single most offensive two part Jewish joke I have ever heard. It was fucking hilarious, but I think I'd get hate mail if I even began to describe it.

Ever since then I've wanted to see him do a full hour and I finally got the chance today.

His delivery style is very eclectic, it feels like he has about 10 hours worth of material but rather than structuring it into a show, he seems to be just saying whatever comes to mind.

His self-doubt, which pours out into the audience even before the show has started when he's helping seat people in the small room, makes him immediately endearing and it buys him time while he slowly gets into his stride, talking about himself like he was an angst ridden teenager and generally going off at tangents because he has spoken to an audience member, or mentioned something off the cuff and that's reminded him of another joke...

Co-incidentally, he shares a rare skill with Kunt from Kunt and the Gang (my last review). He can offend an audience to the point of almost losing them, before winning them back with a well crafted punch line that either makes a mockery of himself or what he's just said.

He's been described as a lot of things in reviews I've read, and also in reviews he talked about on stage... He seemed to be almost proud of the review from a critic who said it felt like he was watching a mid life crisis unravel in front of him. And it does seem like a very apt description. He's also been described as mildly racist.

I'm very much interested in the language of racism and what different people consider to be racist. You can hear a lot of things in a comedy show that would be considered racist anywhere else. I once joked with a friend that, "there is a lot of racism in the world... and personally I blame the Chinese", a statement which would be racist if it wasn't so absurd and obviously a joke.

I mention this joke because I don't wan to give any of his material away, but you need to know what to expect from his show. He takes no prisoners and everyone is a target. It's that type of humour. This is no sugar coated, made for TV comedy experience. This is about as raw as it gets.

Unplanned, uncompromising and unhinged, not everyone will like it, but I could listen to Lewis Schaffer's random tales all day long.

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