Tony Law is a Canadian stand up comedian. He is best known for his surrealist material and Viking dress style. He is now based in the UK, where he frequently tours new shows. In 2013, his show ‘Maximum Nonsense’ was awarded Best Show at the Chortle Awards.
Everything bad comes from people not being curious.
On first memories of science
Ah, the Encyclopædia Britannica, which was lying around our house, on the farm, we didn’t have much else to read but we had the full set from, I think it was 1959, so it was already at least twenty years old when I first read it and so that’s what I remember because there was nothing else to do. Just flicking through that. Even before I could read, I looked at those. I think that counts as science.
I grew up on a farm so my first memories of science are, well, the farm is full of science isn’t it? Animals and… which makes you surprised that not all farmers believe in science. It’s all around you isn’t it? I mean, it’s everything to be curious isn’t it? Without it, there’s nothing. We go nowhere. Everything bad comes from people not being curious. See, I’m hitting the headlines here.
On science influencing comedy
Well, yes, skepticism does influence me. My dad was very skeptical about most things and I really picked up on that, to the point where he’s sort of, he’s depressive, but I hope I’m not that far, but yes, that informs everything, surely. Yeah, just, ‘Well, really? Well ok.’ Yes, and always trying to go against the herd. But what happens if the herd becomes all right? Like, correct. Do we still have to go against it? I don’t know. But yes. That answered that successinctly. Is that a word? I ain’t done much proper learning.
On exciting discoveries
The theory of evolution probably [gets me the most excited]. Just because it seems so obvious. I’ve just been listening to Dawkins so that’s probably why I’m saying it but also, definitely, when you first come to that, I think you just go, ‘Oh yeah. What was the rest of us thinking?’ But the funny thing is, the more you believe in, sort of, sense and reason and reality and sort of how things really, probably are, or are, the more that your brain can fantasise and create magical worlds and, do you know what I mean? It’s a weird thing. In the things that I do, they become more fantastical, and you can be more fantastical with your children when it’s based from the real world.
But I think people who believe in, like, all the Jesus and all the crazy stuff and all of the superstitions and all that, I think they then root themselves often in a very, sort of, ‘I’m a grown up’ way. So, I think, yeah, Darwinism allows you to be a child, from its strong base. Wow, there was a long answer.
On the joy in nature
Now, I’ve got small children so it’s going to sound a little bit sappy probably. Just watching them learn, and their brains develop and, ah, they’re only four, they’re twins, and I know it sounds so naff, but genuinely watching them, watching the brain develop is, I wish I could have something cooler but actually, genuinely, that gives me such delight and it surprises me so much to watch them and go: ‘Wow. Human beings are unbelievable.’ The way that one develops more quickly than the other in one way and then the other one and just discovering things. It’s not even who walks and stuff, it’s just ideas that they pluck out of the air. And then, like, one might just panic at the idea of not knowing how to do mathematics. At four. But understanding that there’s a thing like mathematics and just the panic and having a meltdown in front of you, but you know why it is, it’s because they don’t understand mathematics immediately. That’s stunning. I think that’s the most recent thing, but then, everywhere you go, especially nature, always blows you away doesn’t it?
You know, I’ve not been in a great place recently. I’ve been reading a lot about Joseph Stalin and his henchmen so, I’ve also been in a dark place about darkness so, you know what, I’m gonna go to the Galápagos Islands soon and cheer myself up. That took a weird turn didn’t it?