COMEDY REVIEW: Andy Zaltzman: Satirist for Hire @ The Stand, Newcastle (26.02.18) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Towards the end of his Satirist for Hire set, Andy Zaltzman described his show thus; “something for everyone, quite a lot for no-one” – a better review than anything I could dream of putting together. I laughed myself stupid throughout an incredibly impressive show, which I give a uncommitted three star rating on account of how divisive it would have been to the casual fan. I’m not a casual fan – so when Zaltzman spent the last twenty five minutes of the evening interviewing a stand-mounted cauliflower which spoke in Donald Trump soundbites, I was neither surprised nor lacking in entertainment. In a time when political comedy is at once easy and exhausting, he found a brilliantly satirical approach to a well trodden subject matter. He’s a smart comedian, who makes up for an acknowledged clumsy stage presence with quick wit and quicker thinking.

Prior to the show Zaltzman came out to the stage and asked the audience for subject matter to send up in the following hour. Jeremy Hunt, Tony Blair, the resemblance between Spurs right-back Kyle Walker and BBC comedian Nish Kumar were offered amongst others and to my disbelief Zaltzman walked away for only five minutes, wrote the show then came out and got the funny rolling.

With twenty years of experience Andy Zaltzman is in his element; finding enough comfort in his skin to tear through a near two hour performance (with interval) whilst retaining an earnest candour that gives the whole show a distinctly British identity – perfect for a political satirist post-Brexit. The user-submitted format leaves too much room for the kind of lean and overly-structured show of mainstream comedians but instead allows room for Zaltzman’s seasoned genius, and genius it is; a bit on prison secure unit mental health earned rapturous applause after he took the bleak subject matter and somehow spun it into a ten minute recital on 1820’s health legislation. It was funny because he took something unfunny and somehow sterilised it further into a kind of agonising performance piece. Anti-comedy; by a truly professional comedian.

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