ComedyNorth WestReviewStand Up

Andy Parsons: Peak Bullshit – The Lowry, Salford.

Reviewer: Paul Maguire

Andy Parsons cut his comedy teeth in the 1990s as one of the main writers for Spitting Image. Since then the comedy merry go round has turned full circle and in the current political climate, Parson’s style of satirical comedy is now back in vogue.

Parsons bounds onto the large stage with confidence big enough to fill it. His familiar intonation and cadence seem toned down for this live performance, perhaps because his usual idiosyncratic delivery would jar with even his most ardent fans over a full two-act show.

Ater initial introductions it is just five minutes before he starts on the first of many political themes. He opens with a story about the Kafkaesque machinations of the NHS and the ultimately futile efforts he has recently made in attempting to get a simple hospital appointment. In utter frustration, he concludes that the best way to get to see a junior doctor is to join them on a demonstration.

He continues in a similar vein and takes pot shots at Donald Trump, Theresa May, the privatised rail system and the cost of higher education. All familiar topics for the political comedian to mine, but Parsons manages to bring a fresh and amusing angle to the subjects, the image of Trump as a political version of the pop star Shaggy, “It wasn’t me” and describing the less than prurient reasons as to why he had invited Theresa May to the Whitehouse – it was all to do with the mis-spelling of her name – certainly start to warm the audience up.

In the last ten minutes of the first act, he meanders away from the more topical material and turns observational comedian with an entertaining but pedestrian routine about being a man and a father, leaving the feeling that he should stick to what he is best at.

The second act starts with Parsons returning to the political subject matter that he clearly relishes. He sets his sights again at Donald Trump and states that while Trump may well be a complete clown, he is in fact, a comedian’s nightmare as his every utterance is far funnier than anything that even the most skilled satirist could come up with.

He then turns his ire towards that other larger than life political figure, Nigel Farage. Parsons delights in the irony that Farage’s much-publicised love of beer and cigarettes could well see him admitted into hospital to be cared for by the very people that he wants to get rid of from the UK. He then neatly contrasts these colourful political figures with the banality of Jeremy Corbyn,“ who wears a vest, tends an allotment, and is a drainspotter who enjoys photographing grids and drain covers”.

Pleasingly, Parsons intersperses political content with the odd vignette of filth and smut, showing his skill as a writer and performer as the laugh does not just come from the gags themselves but from the strategic and unexpected way he places them within the more earnest material.

Parson’s show is topical and satirical and seems aimed at the demographic of his audience. Although edgy, he lacks the energy and bite of the young tyro he once was. He comes across as more of a disgruntled, middle-aged man, unhappy that the injustices of the society of his youth still exist today.

Parsons has an easy, likable persona that serves him well throughout the entire ninety-minute set. He delivers his material professionally and is at his best when riffing with the audience, it is these relaxed ad libs that bring the biggest responses of the evening. His prepared material simply draws knowing chuckles, rather than full-on belly laughs, and the audience leaves merely satisfied rather than fully sated.

Reviewed on 11 March 2017 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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