Edinburgh Fringe 2013
An hour of excellent topical, stand-up political comedy. Good material, great punch lines, some clever impersonations and a lot of pragmatic, common sense from someone who is pleasingly passionate about politics.
This was my second political event of the day and I was certainly hoping it was going to be more entertaining than the first – a rambling, incoherent and at times inaudible hour from Simon Hogart at the Assembly Rooms. At least we’ve a couple of blow-up Big Bens to admire and some jolly flags fluttering in the breeze from the powerful Ace Dome air-conditioners.
Matt Forde started in politics at a very early age. He wasn’t quite in the league of William Hague (who you will remember spoke at the Tory Party Conference as a 16 year-old) but you must be pretty keen (and, in his own words, weird) if you are out canvassing for the Labour Party aged just 13. Now quite openly New Labour (which he admitted in a way that made it feel like he was coming out), he is determined to celebrate politics and the many real characters that inhabit its broad church.
Getting the audience involved early doors by having them react in the manner of Commons’ MPs in that bear-pit that is PMQ (that’s Prime Minister’s Questions to you non-political aficionados) warmed everyone up and acted as a neat segue way to a series of amusing parodies of the politically famous, and infamous. This included an extended, clever and very witty examination of Nick Farage, UKIP’s blunder-a-minute leader, who he felt was a bit like the band Oasis – great music but the lyrics are sh*te! He tells a good tale against himself, particularly his non-encounter with boyhood hero Dennis Skinner and takes off the likes of Blair, Brown, Charles Kennedy, Nick Clegg and others with aplomb.
It’s an energetic performance with a staccato delivery and a rapid transition from one theme to the next which leaves his audience struggling to keep up at times. There’s scarcely a pause in this hour long tour of the Palace of Westminster. His sense of comic timing is well honed, as you might expect from such a consummate performer. His material has real bite as well as being genuinely funny. But what sets him apart from many others of his ilk is his tolerance of other’s political point of view and his ability to talk plain, practical common sense about a number of key issues, either with a political focus or of more general interest to society. This is really balanced material, never didactic, just thought provoking and entertaining.
His concern that today’s political leaders are all the same colour – beige – is well voiced, and it is clear that he wants to change the view held by many young people that politics is dull and not for them. At the end of this whirlwind hour it’s clear that his passion is capable of doing just that, if only enough people will listen to him.