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Tony Law – Nonsense Overdrive review

Wednesday December 4 2013, Soho Theatre

‘It’s hard making it look this loose!’ bellows Tony Law, on stage at the Soho Theatre. No, he’s not referring to his blustery coiffure, he’s talking about his scattergun approach to stand-up. And he’s on particularly chaotic form in ‘Nonsense Overdrive’.

Kicking off the show with a space-themed, laser-filled section (he’s attempting to get a piece of ‘nerd’ comedy pie – or should that be ‘pi’? – that Robin Ince has made so popular), Law recklessly flips between comedy genres, accents and far-out topics. For the uninitiated, his ‘shouty bollocks’ is quite the kick in the, well, bollocks. But once you’re on board, it’s hard not to be charmed by his irreverent whimsy and naive persona.

The 44-year-old Canadian comic doesn’t stick about floating in space. Before long we’ve crashed back down to earth to cover parenthood, feminism, dinner parties and historical inaccuracies. He takes pride in his deliberately under-researched material, tackling big topics from a childlike perspective. You’re not going to hear silly, vague statements like ‘a lot of stuff happened in the olden days’, or ‘most science is small’ in BBC One documentaries, but ToneZone’s (as he’d like to be called) nonsensical truisms aren’t meant to be examined too closely.

Compared to ‘Maximum Nonsense’, Law’s superb 2012 show that earned him a Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award-nomination, 2013’s offering is much sloppier. He never quite latches on to a theme before he’s hurtling towards the next with a clunky segue, and his space adventure finale just feels like whimsy for whimsy’s sake. But ‘Nonsense Overdrive’ is still a whole heap of ludicrous fun. Law’s worked hard to give his show the just-got-out-of-bed look, and it’s paid off.