‘Getting political views from comedy is worrying’ – Andy Parsons heads to Norwich
PUBLISHED: 16:01 27 November 2017
The former Mock The Week regular, and familiar face from just about every panel show, returns to Norwich Playhouse with his latest show, described as an adlibbing, joke-fuelled rallying cry for a better Britain.
We live in interesting times – so thank goodness for Andy Parsons, a comic who can make sense of what’s happening at home and abroad, and make us laugh about it.
And as the title of his new show - Peak Bulls*** - suggests, he’s holding nothing back as he prepares to visit Norwich Playhouse next month.
“2016 will be remembered for the EU referendum and Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove,” says the Mock The Week funnyman. “So if I have to summarise the show, it’s asking has the world gone mad, what it means to British in 2017, what it means to be a patriot - and is it true that we only like immigrants if they can win us gold medals at the Olympics? We’re not keen for people to sneak into a Britain on a dinghy – unless they can paddle it very quickly”
He will also be musing about the role of satirists in the world, given that most political comics were in favour of Remain in the EU referendum and supported Hillary Clinton in the US presidential election.
But suggest that the resulting arrival of President Trump and Brexit must be a good time to be a satirist and he demurs.
“You could argue it’s the worst time to be a satirist because events have proved that what satirists say has no effect whatsoever on the general public. Satirists should be arguing for World War Three and an increase in bankers’ bonuses on the grounds that they then will be much less likely to happen.”
In person, Andy is more quietly spoken and laid-back than the “Mr Angry” persona fans know and love from Mock the Week, which he appeared on for a decade until 2015.
He enjoyed the run, he says, but the limitations of seven comics recording a half-hour show meant that complex points about that week’s events often had to be whittled down to a few soundbites.
“We would rarely get a chance on Mock the Week to discuss anything contentious – such as terrorism or tax credits or Syria,” he continues. “I mean, David Cameron wanted to bomb Syria in 2013 and 2015 but in those two years he had completely changed his mind as to which side he wanted to bomb. It seemed he wanted to bomb both sides. That didn’t seem like a coherent foreign policy – more like somebody who had some bombs that were coming up to their use-by date.”
Andy, who was born in Dorset, now lives in south-western London with his medical statistician wife and their young son, and admits that there is a metropolitan London bubble - but touring the country is the antidote to that.
“It doesn’t matter where you live or what your politics are, the same things – health, education, jobs, pay, crime – affect us all. There are many things we can all agree on. For instance, Philip Green should not have been allowed to sell BHS to a former bankrupt with no history of retail experience for a quid. I would have made a better owner of BHS. I’ve got no retail experience, I’m not a former bankrupt and I’ve got a quid.”
He goes on: “When emotions are heightened and you talk about the state of the world, I think – at least I hope – that maybe people are more interested in what you have to say.
“There is a lot of anger in Britain at the moment – if only we could use anger as a renewable energy source, what a place the world would be. Get the likes of Sarah Vine and Katie Hopkins to shout their newspaper columns into generating turbine and we could all have a free cup of tea.”
Andy rejects the often mentioned notion that people are not interested in politics.
“Look at the turnout for the referendum,” he says – and, judging by the sell-out audiences at the recordings in London’s Soho Theatre for his monthly podcast, the Slacktivist Action Group, it seems people are very much interested in politics.
“I think people really are hungry for political debate because, while we are being bombarded with information, you could argue that we know much less about the world we live in - what with the growth of fake news on the internet and if people really don’t trust experts any more.
“There is so much bulls*** out there that people don’t know where to go for their news and information. Apparently a lot of people are getting their information from comedy shows, which given that they are comedy shows is very worrying. You ask any comedian “Why the chicken crossed the road?” and they will all give you a different answer.”
• Andy Parsons is at Norwich Playhouse on December 7, 8pm, £15, 01603 598598, norwichplayhouse.co.uk