After winning best-newcomer for his debut solo show last year, acerbic young stand-up Liam Williams returns with a set with ‘substance’. The subject, and the title, is Capitalism, a framework which is to make sure, Williams tells us, that he doesn’t end up squawking about his personal travails for an hour straight.
Don’t let the title put you off. It is, unavoidably, an Occupy-esque, Zizek-quoting rant about ‘late capitalism’, but there’s a self-mocking undertone that saves it from mere first-year agitprop. It’s a sinewy series of twists and turns in which you’re never sure whether his targets are the blood-sucking corporates, his keffiyeh-clad comrades, the hoi polloi propping up the system with their grubby consumerism, or his audience, who he complements for having the intelligence to laugh at his in-the-know observations.
What is clear is that Williams is a formidable talent, gliding wonderfully from off-kilter, lyrical punchlines into hilarious, protracted exchanges between him and his Tyler Durden-esque alter ego – who, it turns out, is even more inert than he is. In the end, Williams points the barrel firmly at himself, mocking everything from his political pretentions to his tendency to sneakily hide his Heinekens at house parties. He may, unintentionally, lay the rot of modern-day anti-capitalism bare. He may well believe a lot of this guff. But, either way, he’s at his best when he is just ranting about himself.
Tom Slater is assistant editor at spiked.
Liam Williams: Capitalism is at The Cellar Monkey until 25 August.