Is there much doubt that Andy Jones is the funniest and most versatile and also most reflective stand-up comedian in Newfoundland and Labrador? Nobody in the audience for the opening of his one-man show currently running at the LSPU Hall would quarrel with that opinion.
Premiered in 2002, “To the Wall” is now revived for local re-consumption. Don’t worry, it is still zesty and pungent.
In miscellaneous costumes and varied personas, sometimes animated, sometimes deadpan, Andy serves up a rich mix of tall tales and anecdotes, of social and philosophical commentary, played out on a sparely furnished stage, augmented on an upstage screen by images of the Virgin Mary and old family photographs.
Recollections of growing up in Irish-Catholic St. John’s merge with musings on theology and cosmology, photos of an outport wedding compete with Uncle Val’s trick of catching rabbits in winter by telling them sad stories. Images of the 14th century Black Death give way to photos of Aunt Mary, who married a British diplomat and snubbed Hitler during her husband’s posting to Berlin.
And then there is Andy’s matchless portrait of crazy Father Dinn preaching on the theme, “If you’re Irish, come into the parlour,” seguing into an outraged rant over the idea of St. Patrick’s being removed from the canonical calendar of saints.
It needs no ghost come from hell to convince you that Jones is a winsome conversationalist and master storyteller — genial, disarming, self-deprecating, flecked through with anxieties, but always holding the audience in the palm of his hand.
In order to meet an early press deadline, I reluctantly slipped away from the Hall at the intermission to write this brief notice. But, even though I did not witness the second half of the show this time round, you can be confident it will fulfil the promise of the first act.
And, if you are there after the intermission, you will have the priceless opportunity of participating in Andy’s public meeting to which God is invited to explain Himself.
Directed by Charlie Tomlinson, written and performed by Andy Jones, “To the Wall” continues its four-day run at the LSPU Hall, closing Sunday, with a curtain time of
8 p.m. Admission is $20.
The Father Dinn routines alone are worth the price of admission.