Liam Williams: Capitalism
Sheeps member goes solo with confrontational and cutting stand-up at Edinburgh Festival Fringe
This article is from 2014.
In his current show, Richard Herring curiously states that he decided stand-up was the job for him because ‘comedians are honest’. Given the bizarre fabrications and wilful dismantling of the actual for their own ends, this seemed an unlikely claim. Of course, what he probably was getting at is the essential truths told from the stage underneath all the half-lies and outright falsehoods being spun.
What to make, then, of Liam Williams and Capitalism? Having temporarily separated himself from sketch troupe Sheeps, his was one of the most discussed debut stand-up hits of last Fringe. His act was dubbed as part of a new wave of disillusionment comedy, with one review mentioning that onstage at the Tron, he occasionally appeared on the brink of tears.
Well, he’s back playing in yet another pub basement and running fast and loose with anything remotely akin to conventional stand-up. The overly cynical might say that this is exactly the kind of form-bending flitting between genius and irritating that we should have come to expect when alternative comedy appointed Stewart Lee as its figurehead. The main similarity between the two is a tendency to stretch an idea or routine way beyond its natural life; Williams’ existential debates with a plastic shades-wearing Tyler Durden-esque alter ego drops squarely into that bracket.
But as its best, Capitalism is packed with thoughtful bits that are mostly clever and sometimes a bit silly. In the latter is the World Cup song, while the former is represented by cutting sequences about hypocrisy (his own, partly), bad company slogans, why graffiti artists are a bit rubbish and his ongoing fight against the generic.
Whether what we are seeing is anything like the ‘real’ Liam Williams matters not a jot. His is a captivating worldview which confronts his audience and the whole notion of stand-up. And that’s the truth.
The Cellar Monkey, 221 9759, until 25 Aug (not 11), 1.15pm, free.