Lorenzo Pacitti

Tony Law Q&A

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Tony Law is a stand-up comedian from Canada who you might recognise from TV appearances on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You, and Russell Howard’s Good News. In an interview with Giggle Beats, Tony talks about why he loathes writing a new show, the fabled ‘Tone Zone’, his Edinburgh Fringe lunchtime slot and why he loves doing panel shows.

Hi Tony, another year at the Fringe for you – do you look forward to it or is it all a bit daunting?

I never ever look forward to it.  But I remember that once it gets going, I love it. I love and loath getting a new show together but by half way through the Fringe when I know my way around it, I’ll be able to look forward to strutting around the country for a few months having a ball being a clown and meeting kind people on tour.

Could you tell us more about the fabled ‘Tone Zone’?

Same zone as always really. It’s for polite/slightly damaged/kind humans who are trying to do good. I want to invite them to take a journey into my psyche (and theirs) to the place where we can all be ourselves.  Oh, fuck it.  It was a nickname DOD [David O’Doherty] gave me and I liked it!

Do you enjoy the social aspect of the festival and being surrounded by fellow comedians, or is it a struggle not to become immersed in your own work?

I hate both. I still laugh and feel queasy when I hear work in conjunction to this arsing about that I do. Effort, sure.  Work? That’s when you’re in an abattoir all day. But, also, I lie about the social side. I love seeing people I know.  It’s just easier when it’s one or two every few nights. But all in one month?

I tend to only ever have a couple of friends outside my family at any one time. And even then it’s fake. I love really good acquaintances that you reveal only so much to. But just enough to release a valve of self-hatred and just enough for them to feel you’ve revealed.  They’re doing the same I think.

Yes. I like it there.

What does an average day at the Fringe for Tony Law entail?

Can’t say.

Kids breakfast. Stem mood. Become fun. Kids to sitter/nursery for 3 hours.  Get grilled for one hour about what I’m trying to say by my (nameless) director/sage/muse who hates being mentioned due to being patronised as a WIFE/busy body/just a mother even though she sacrificed her career (11 times more successful and artistic than mine) so that I could break her with children to tap into her innate decency. Ha ha ha ha. Then gig. Try to stay sober. Repeat. Winner!

Why do you like the lunchtime slot so much? Your last four Edinburgh shows have been at 12pm…

Yes.  It’s my slot. I pioneered it. And this is my 5th in a row. I’m happiest going on at 12. Always. I didn’t want any pressure – no posters, lunchtime show. Once in 2009/2010 there was just me, one paying audience member, two friends and two journalists.

Anyway.  It grew slowly through word of mouth.  And we worked like fucking dogs with no money and brand new twins. Scraping away. They are 5 and a half now so the noon slot makes the Fringe possible for us as a family.

Also I don’t like anyone in the room having had more drinks than me. So I think that’s sorted.

You’re often cited as a standard bearer for alternative stand-up – how do you feel about that tag? It must be frustrating when you tackle social/political issues and they’re almost immediately described as surreal…

I don’t hear that. I always thought it was ‘cause I try to be painfully nice and polite to people in short stretches and then be grumpy at home with the ones who really need and love me.  I mean that’s why I thought people liked me. I’ve been fooling.

Alternative SCHMOORNATIVE. What is this, the 90s?  My friends/fans/followers/pals just like seeing me get away with it as long as I’m making them laugh. Plus they know what I mean by stuff.  They get their own layers.

That said, you’ve changed your look quite a lot over the years, growing out your hair and your beard, and changing the way you dress quite dramatically. Do you find that your more left-field material has become more palatable as a result?

How do you know what I said? This is a written interview.

I slowly evolved a look through despair.   Some six years ago I was quiffed.  Some three before that I was a proto Russell Howard.  Although I was infinitely better looking and sexy but without the work ethic.

Now I look how what my soul feels. There is no field. Only those walking out the measures.

(That was wank. Soz).

What kind of comedy do you enjoy watching?

All of it.  Absolutely all of it.  Then none.  I’m delighted by how much I like all sorts as long as it’s not all bullying and that.

You follow up your Edinburgh run with another tour of the show – will you be doing more TV work in the autumn too?

Hope so. I can’t say or tell. The most unusual shows seem to want me. Crumbs, I never really worry too much   But I love the news now with the legends.  You know.  Merton and Hislop.  I adore Noel.  But I hang out with him anyways.

It’s just those relaxed actual improv shows are an intense social way to hang out.  That’s really why I hope I’ll do those more.  The social.  They pay poop so it’s not that.  The social. Oh and QI.  I like the look of that.

That’s limit of my ambition.  Touring to my dudes.  And some social. Oh, and I’m also writing a book and I’ve a film and two sitcoms ready to roll out.  COUGH.

Tony Law: Enter The Tonezone, The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, 30 July – 24 August, 12.10pm, £11/£8 concessions, edfringe.com