It’s bloody hard to pin down the content of a Tony Law show, mainly because it's something Tony steers clear of himself. The bluff, hollering Canadian creates a careening, stagecoach-on-a-cliff-edge atmosphere, reveling in the scattershot, hit-and-miss chaos of audience interaction, unscripted tangents and physical comedy. He’s happy to spend a full five minutes trying to play a trombone through a rubber horse mask, with no fear that it’ll derail the rest of his show because, well, there isn’t one. Or at least, not in the traditional ‘here’s an hour about my dad’ format that’s now so familiar at the Fringe.
Not that he’s unprepared, mind – he's just got a rough structure in mind, rather than a set list. For the first 30 minutes, he barrels through quips in dozens of regional accents and embarks on surreal flights of fancy with supposed friends among the audience (‘I’m glad to see you here – I remember when we built a bunch of saunas together in Finland in 1939’), but he peppers this stream of jolly absurdity with off-hand references to drinking too much, or hints at a recent period of mental breakdown.
That breakdown forms the meat of the second half – a part of the show he describes as an intentional lull – and it’s disconcerting to see someone so larger-than-life suddenly become so vulnerable. With his beard, wild hair and loud demeanor, he resembles a frontiersman returned to the saloon after too many months alone on his claim – not a figure you feel comfortable watching fess up to his own fragility.
It's heartening that he’s come through his troubles and feels healthy enough to keep gigging, and you’ll almost certainly leave the show having enjoyed his company – but not without worrying about him a little.