Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, £5 (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Lewis Schaffer is Free until Famous, £5

credit: Ray Malcolm

Bewildering set from an established comic in full control of his chaos

If you found Lewis Schaffer sitting in a bus shelter on his own you would probably call social services. One day he may have been an ageing Jewish comedian from New York but now he’s on the edge of a complete nervous breakdown. But wait, is there more than there appears to this old pro? A twinkle in his eye gives away his true character.

This is a performance piece that is very believable with Schaffer’s delightfully vulnerable awkwardness making him so endearing that the crowd can’t help but come along for the ride as he talks about modern problems through the eyes of a senior comic.

Schaffer is completely committed to the act from the moment he shakes the audience’s hands at the door to the point where his microphone cable falls out mid-sentence. This continues all the way to the end of the show, which comes about 20 minutes too early and finds Schaffer sitting down with the rest of us explaining that this is the worst show he has ever done. It just gets more laughs, with the audience revelling in his ineptitude. Then he bumbles out slowly with the bewildered gathering not exactly sure what just happened but somehow knowing it was funny.

Just the Tonic at The Community Project, 0330 220 1212, until 30 Aug (not 18), 5.35pm, £5 (£3; family ticket £14).

Lewis Schaffer: You Are Beautiful

  • 3 stars

Fast-talking stand-up from the acclaimed and award-winning New York comic.