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Political Animal
Published on Saturday, 21 August 2010

4.5 stars

The Stand Comedy Club (venue website)
9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18, 19, 23, 24, 25, 26 Aug, 11:59pm (1:30am)
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

I was listening to a cassette of The Best of Not the Nine O Clock News on the long car ride to Edinburgh, and I was surprised by how many of the jokes were about politics.  We just don't have much of that type of comedy on UK TV anymore.  So I jumped at the chance to review Political Animal, a late night-showcase of political stand up.  Could political comedy be making a comeback?  Could that be the strange silver lining of the Tories being back in power?

Well, I have no idea, but what I do know is that this was a great show.  The theme meant that, while most of the acts sheepishly apologised for not having much material about politics, they avoided all the pitfalls of lazy stand up - instead finding fresh, interesting, often radical themes.  I loved Andi Osho, who had a neat line in dealing with the fact that hers was the only black face in the room, and then pointed out that having Dizzee Rascal on Question Time to talk about Barack Obama was like asking Kerry Katona to guest if Hilary Clinton had won instead.  I also enjoyed Alan Cochrane's style: mixing an understated demeanour with a devastating wit.

The second half was a little more lacklustre, but still enjoyable.  A few subjects were repeated, but it didn't matter - everyone had new takes on the BNP, Obama, the coalition and the BP oil spill.

It was MC Andy Zaltzman who really made the show sing.  He proclaimed himself not a natural compere, but the room was as happy and warm as any I've been to.  He had some fascinating material himself; I especially liked it when he pointed out that the fair trade symbol shouldn't be the exception.  Why don't we instead label the products that have been unfairly traded?  He had some nice suggestions of what the unfair trade mark should look like too.

The interval quiz was joyous, and all round the evening truly felt a cut above other late night, mixed-bill stand up shows.  If this is how good a night of political comedy can be - I'd like much, much more.

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These are archived reviews of shows from the Edinburgh Fringe 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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