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Edinburgh Fringe 2011

Andy Zaltzman: Armchair Revolutionary

Andy Zaltzman

Genre: Character Stand up


The Stand Comedy Club


Low Down

We all love an opinionated comic, and Zaltzman is one of the most opinionated. His politicality is unrelenting, but his manner is affable, and his puns are – well, punny.


Politics and puns are the watchwords for Andy Zaltzman’s particular brand of comedy. Unabashedly intellectual and unstintingly verbose, his material is very topical, admitting that the London Riots forced him to rewrite large chunks of his show while in Edinburgh
He compares the rioting here to the Arab Spring riots (pretty unfavourably), questioning the collective intellectual capacity of a nation where people riot for trainers versus those who rebel in protest against despotic rule. He covers the AV vote and explains why he thinks first past the post is a ridiculous system, pointing out the current system allowed a government that no-one voted for to get in (a poll of the audience reveals that many who voted in the referendum agree with him). He touches on the welfare state, Syria and charitable giving. So I would advise audiences to have at least a modicum of knowledge about current affairs before embarking on this quite lengthy show (be warned, it is an hour and ten minutes long – but if you get there early you’ll get a few extra jokes, so it’s definitely good value for money).
Most of his opinions have a pretty liberal and leftist vibe, so hardcore conservatives may find this less a comedy show than something to get you good and riled.
But this is not to say that Zaltzman is unrelentingly fact and opinion driven. He also does a lengthy spiel where every three words makes a dog-based pun, in a string that would make Tim Vine quail. I’d love to see the two of them in a pun-off to see who could riff longest on a topic. Zaltzman seems to have made an art of eliciting that particular groan in response to the terrible, awful, no-good very bad (but so good) pun. He does warn his audience at the start that he will make lots of them, and he is clearly a man of his word.
There is a lot to be enjoyed about this blend of silliness and high-brow political discussion. He asks himself and us whether we would have the chutzpah to join a revolution for what we believe in.  If the revolution were to instate Zaltzman as PM, you could count me in.