Lewis Schaffer is Free Until Famous

  • Comedy
  • Solo shows
Critics' choice
Free

Brooklyn-born honorary Brit Lewis Schaffer has been performing his free, twice-weekly stand-up show in Soho for yonks. Well, we say ‘show’, actually the looser-than-loose structure and erratic audience interaction make it more of a strange group therapy session, where only one person is allowed to talk. Schaffer’s dry, acerbic style is exhilarating to watch. On most nights, his obtrusive, irony-heavy material soars. Occasionally it doesn’t, and the 56-year-old stand-up thrives on the awkwardness (if you’re like us, you’ll find that even funnier). Either way, it’s a bloody good laugh and unlike anything else on the comedy circuit. Go see Lewis Schaffer.

Average User Rating

3.6 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:16
  • 4 star:6
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:9
LiveReviews|32
3 people listening
Dimi L
1 of 1 found helpful

What a sad pathetic excuse for a comedian. This is was straight up the worst show I have seen, couldn't even get a sympathy laugh. I'd rather put a hot needle into my eye than see him again

JAT
1 of 1 found helpful

It's free, and you very much get what you pay for.

Gemma
1 of 1 found helpful

Where did my review go? It was not published? Anyway, was awful show, cringeworthy at how bad it was, and yet the comedian was so dislikeable that it was hard to feel any sympathy as he bombed...

tamara b

Someone once said that comedy is truth moved 1000 per cent to the left and that is one of the elements I love about a Lewis Schaffer gig; the truth will out but it's the truth wrapped in comic gems. There is a lot of extremely funny material here and Lewis just has funny bones but,  like a great improviser sometimes he will start riffing...maybe he's riffing because he wants some comedy chaos, maybe he's riffing because the comic seams are momentarily coming apart..maybe he's riffing because he just finds it more interesting but the riffing's the thing wherein you find the consciousness of a comedy king; it  adds such an interesting layer to his comic cake.   If he sits down amongst the audience and turns it into a group therapy session, so much the better, if he tells you the gig is going really badly, he's a failure and he's already traumatised by last night's awful benefit gig, even funnier! This is a man who defies the tacit comic codes (talking about a gig going badly in real time is something most comics wouldn't dare do) and who will not be boxed in.  He's a comic rebel.   Thank god for character in this sea of mediocrity I say!   A Lewis Schaffer gig is unpredictable, often hilarious, heartening, sometimes chaotic. It's a beautiful slice of life. !!! 


S

Blanche C

Lewis Schaffer is daring, intelligent, self-deprecating, chaotic… He's tells great stories. But alas everything is NOT alright for Lewis Schaffer, life is often painful, and fraught with difficulties! And depending on what happens tonight and how we get along… it may go well, or not…Luckily the awkwardness is just as funny as the flow, sometimes more so… 

 Lewis Schaffer is the antidote to society's emotional comfort blanket. He isn’t pretending to be an idiot – he’s reminding us that fundamentally we are all idiots. It’s very funny as well as revealing. I can't believe he's not famous! I can’t believe this show is free! Go see him and give generously!

John S

Seen Lewis loads of times and will continue to keep going...I'd say 8 times out of 10 brilliant, 1 time boring, 1 time it's awkward but that's probably the one I laugh at the most :-) Not for everyone but definitely for me...give it a try and if you don't like it go and watch some vanilla TV act at an arena.

Liam Lonergan

I really enjoyed the show. It was one of the most authentic, disorderly, shambolic live gigs I've been to. Rich in "Id". Hilariously awkward AND awkwardly hilarious. Even the bits where the show got away from him and it seemed as if he was trying to resuscitate moribund dinner party games for guests who hate the food.

eldangle

Lewis is very funny. A bad night means an unresponsive audience. Go along but be prepared to chip in. Why the man has never been offered spots on TV stand-up shows or panel shows is a mystery. His current Leicester Square Theatre show is the best £10 you can spend in London. A tenner. It's nothing.

Claudia

Lewis is a genius. This is the best show ever. If you think his jokes are offensive it means you are not smart enough to understand them.

vivienne soan

Lewis Schafer is NOT free at Pull The Other One on Friday 25th October at the Old Nunshead in Nunhead because to us he IS "FAmous and worth every penny of our cheap offer of £7 from http://www.wegottickets.com/event/244354. Of course he will be being supported by a lot of people who are either in their graves or headed that way...namely DEAD ELVIS and MEGA CHER along with a HORRIBLE interpretation of MICHEAL JACKSON'S THRILLER

Deb

Lewis Schaffer is all kinds of funny. He is a great storyteller, distracts you with his self-deprecation and challenges to stereotype, leading you down to great pay-offs of the main thread of his stories. I've seen him several times and will happily see his show again. If you're going to his show thinking that it'll be a comfortable, homogenised safe gag-a-minute night where no one is offended then you're going to the wrong show. Lewis is like jazz; not for everyone but undeniably stylish.

Martin Besserman

Lewis Schaffer is a very likeable and funny guy .The man has a mental breakdown on stage every time. For every one person who is not a fan ,I bet there are another ten that are .

Christian Talbot

I saw Lewis's show a number of times during the Edinburgh Festival and I think he's one of the best comedian's working in the UK today. Every show is different as that's how Lewis does things. Some of the other "reviewers" seem to have a bee in their bonnet that he isn't Russell Howard or John Bishop. If that's your taste, go elsewhere. If you're a fan of Bill Hicks, Louis CK or Doug Stanhope, get along and see him.

Tom R

If you're a fan of interesting, volatile, unpolished, raw and emotional comedy with poignancy one minute and balls out shock the next, then you should have a lot of fun with Lewis. If you're a fan of Russell Howard type giggly TV comedy then just stay home. This is not a smooth ride, this is not what YOU want it to be, it's just pure cathartic expression and I for one feel quite privileged to have a US comedian of this calibre in London.

Angela Smith

I have seen Lewis around 12 times and never been disappointed although I know he sometimes has had a bad show!. He has some great stories and loves to be interrupted. He is very likeable, welcomes his audience as they come in and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. I love his neurotic style and his sense of humour - if you haven't seen him yet give him a try I am sure you will enjoy it.

JD

If you're not offending people in comedy, then you're not doing it right, and Lewis is certainly offensive, in a good way.

Sue from Hayes

Neurotic Jew with subtle undertones of sexual confusion and self-loathing. I have been to many comedy shows (over 2000) and seen 'main stream' and 'famous' people churn out their pre-rehearsed and immaculately written material. Lewis is a different kettle of gefilte fish. Lewis loves to interact with the audience. I have seen him rock an audience and also crash and burn, depending on the reaction he gets back. So if he's shit, blame yourselves for not being a better participant. I love Lewis. I would recommend everyone go and see him. It's free, it's an experience. Even if you don't like it at least you can say you tried

Gareth Ellis

I have been to this show a number of times - each time it is different and I always laugh a lot. Lewis Schaffer is a very LIVE comedian, he adapts to each audience. He deserves to be famous.

Ian

Love him or hate him - (and some shell shocked folks on the night we saw him probably bordered on hate or at least befuddled incomprehension of his whip crack seemingly improvised comedic-jazz riffing of his audience) Lewis is now a veritable London institution on par with the Tower of London or the London Eye or at least the A&E Department at any major London Hospital. At times hilarious quips and observations had me literally crying with laughter and on the verge of medically dangerous hysteria where A&E may have come in handy but he rips you back to a slightly more sinister reality with his scurrilous and mildly creepy hitting on some of the younger more attractive female (and some male in a comedy gay schtick) and his tired McCann observations - which seem all too Edinburgh 2007. As much a Lewis Schaffer public therapy and confessional performance tagged on to a more conventional old school comedy stand up I guarantee you will have never seen anything quite like it and will either - if you laugh naturalistically become a fan or if the chuckles aint coming move on and like child birth forget the comedy birth pains you experienced Lewis having on a twice weekly basis. He does this twice a week come rain or shine and walks a metaphorical comedy tightrope of death so see him for free until he is famous - which as he says is twenty years already so you've got plenty of time. He needs a better audience to really fly and lose some of these confused tourists that he pulls in like a restaurant street tout in Brick Lane. Given the slight quibbles about the dodgy material I would have liked to given him 5 stars for 70% of the show 3 stars for 20% and 0 stars for 10% but Time Out doesn't seem to allow such indecisiveness so 5 stars it has to be, As the Austrian steroid abusing sociopath Arnold Schwarzenegger would say - I'll be back.

caroline

I took my 18 year old son on his first comedy trip to see Lewis. I was not disappointed, my son was hooked and we had a great night. You must go and see him, interact with him and have a lot of fun.

Gemma

Utter crap. As we walked out a few of us turned to each other in disbelief and agreed how dire it had been. Ill-judged jokes about Madeleine McCann and attempts to be 'edgy' that just came across as a Jim Davidson type affair but without the warmth and talent. And I hate Jim Davidson. My companion that evening got more laughs than the act, responding to the lame jibes directed his way by the comedian. He told one good joke about English vs. American women and dating. I'm on his mailing list now and whenever I see his name always want to write and tell him how awful his show was, then feel mean and resist the urge. But in today's email he did request that people review him, complaining that previous audience members' reviews had been poor and lowered his Time Out ratings. This seemed a bit cheeky as I can't help but think that the onus is on him to do a good set that people enjoy. His show may be free but I had one night in London and traveled across the city just to check it out. Was not worth the journey or the expense! Others should be warned!

Sam

Not called Russell - disappointing Unfortunately this is 'comedy' pre 2000. A bit like rock n roll without the electric guitar. The 'comedian' lacks even the basic sense of public school entitlement and seems to have an almost peverse lack of self love. He doesn't even seem to find modern life's little eccentricities funny, instead droning on about class, race, nationality and politics - all while inhabiting the body of a washed up 50 year old. It is impossible to predict what you're going to get - you can't even be sure of suitable breaks for smoke/drink/phonecall/selfie taking. Additionally, Lewis lacks the confidence to stand on stage and glow in the audiences approval, lust etc. Instead he interacts extensively with the 'crowd' and seems to get distracted by what he sees in front of him. I like to know what I'm going to hear. Given most of his material didn't seem suitable for tv I doubt I'll see him on Mock the Week any time soon - if I can't brag about going to my mates what's the point? Save your train fares & beer money for something decent at the O2!

James

Horrendously bad. Left during the break because I couldn't stand to listen to another 30 minutes of nonsensical "jokes".

Federico

Went to the show the other day with good friends in the hope of a good time and some laughter, but ended up running away at the interval. The only positive thing I have to say about the show was the fact that it was free. Apart from this, right from the off Schaffer demonstrated a disconcerning lack of comedic skills, and spent 5 minutes fretting over where the very few audience members should sit. Upon the entrance of new arrivals, Schaffer repeated his (not funny) opening lines not once, not twice, but three times! From there on he bitterly tried to insult a member of the audience to no avail, and apart from one or two discreetly funny jokes, the first half of the show was a mixture of uneasy laughter and awkward silence. I ended up laughing, not at the jokes, but rather the situation i found myself in.

Sam

I already wrote a review for this show, but apparently, to keep this terrible comedian's ratings high, they delete the bad reviews. This show was painful to watch, my family and I left after 30 minutes. He had absolutely no material, and if this one member of the audience hadn't been present, the comedian would have stood in absolute silence. Worst comedy show ever!

Sam

I went to Source Below last night to see Lewis Schaffer and was so disappointed. He was painful to watch and relied purely on heckling the audience. He had absolutley no routine and had it not been for one audience member we would have sat there in silence. If it wasn't free I would've asked for a refund.

Edward Hobson

Lewis on stage is an animal in its natural habitat. I've watched a lot of stand up comedians over the years but few are as honestly comfortable as he is that he'll share the deepest wells of desires with you. I've seen him a number of times and each performance could go well or badly depending on the audience on the night or the level of ennui Lewis is experiencing that day. Why not go watch him as it's free for goodness sake and you won't forget the evening whether you belly laugh out loud or chuckle naughtily inside?

Peter Zachary

I have probably seen Lewis about 10 times now. I've seen him do amazingly well and I've seen him struggle. Sometimes in the same gig. Lewis won't guarantee you a show that has been so immaculately constructed around getting maximum laughs, in the way the FAMOUS comedians do it, but I would much rather watch Schaffer do creative, daring comedy than 95% of the formulated stuff you see on Tv. Yes you may hate him, but that will only be because you failed to understand him. sometimes he doesn't even understand himself. But my bet is that you will love him, or at the very least, boy, you will walk out of that venue and you will KNOW that comedy happened. Go see it. It's free for God's sake. I'd pay.

zeroheadroom

this man is shit-ass funny with a performance that moves to the pace of Michael J Fox and the Delorean in Back to the Future. In fact i was shaking like a Parkinsons sufferer with the oodles of laughter emanating from this gentleman's vocal chords. As they say 'where we're going, we don't need microphones'. Be prepared, there are no refiunds if you do accidentally poop yourself....

John "Leftlung" Seedhouse

I like comedy. I watch a lot of it. Not the cr*p that gets churned out on Saturday night TV but the upstairs/downstairs of a pub type where there is a fine line between laughter and the atmosphere of an abattoir. I know and have seen a lot of the acts on the circuit - from the open slot disasters to the criminally under-exposed. Your experience with Lewis Schaffer will ride the journey from "Who the f***?" via "What the f***?" before arriving at the conclusion of "Why the f*** is this guy not a household name?" How many comedians introduce themselves at the door with a handshake and an apology? Lewis is a master at working through the crowd, teasing responses and cajoling interaction. You are made to feel that t you are more special then he is at every turn - even when he is climbing over your seat to interrogate the guy behind you. It is audience engaged comedy. It is comedy and it is personal. You leave with the feeling that you have experienced something different and in a good way. On the way home you the "why the f***..." slaps you in the face and you realise that if Lewis does hit fame then this "thing" he has created will end. Comedy never was so ironic. Its free so you really have nothing to lose - unless you really do love watching that generic DVD you got for x-mas.

Arnold Wilson

Why this guy isn't a global star is beyond me. Its a high speed roller coaster ride through every aspect of life - you don't know where it will turn next, but you sense he is in total control even when it feels like the comedy is in free fall. His personal charm and unique Jewish-American-Anglophile angst pull you in: brilliant insights and endlessly intelligently creative. I have gone back too many times to recalls. Superb. See him while its still free.

Anon

This comedian thrives on audiance interaction whether it's laughter or heckling. In parts a silver tongued and funny man. His let down was inaccurate racial and sexual stereotypes would be funny if they were brutally true.