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Andy Zaltzman: The Bugle Live –The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

“A week is a long time in politics”, or so the saying goes: certainly on both sides of the Atlantic this week seems longer than usual, we’ve had the fallout from the Tory Party Conference ( surely we’ve all seen that dance by now!), the never-ending saga that is ‘Brexit’, and Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing at the Supreme Court. With so much going on in the world it’s little wonder that it’s such a struggle to keep up with current affairs: luckily comedian and cricket fanatic Andy Zaltzman is on hand with his podcast, The Bugle to keep us abreast of just what is happening in the world… albeit in an irreverent and slightly silly way.

The Bugle began broadcasting in 2007 and bills itself as an “audio newspaper for a visual world”. After a brief hiatus, it returned in 2016 with Zaltzman as the lead and various co-hosts helping. Tonight’s broadcast is no different as we are joined by podcast regulars Producer Chris and Australian comedian Alice Fraser.

The show opens with a reminder that Zaltzman’s podcast The Bugle is still going albeit without John Oliver who seems to have bigger fish to fry in America. A quick poll of the room showed that several people hadn’t heard of Oliver, bringing no end of joy to Zaltzman – as he was in a room where everyone had heard of him he truly had made it.

The format of the show is simple, both Zaltzman and Fraser give their take on the bigger stories of the day, as well a look at some stories you may have missed. The show manages to cover a wide range of topics from the controversy at Saturday’s UFC fight, to various facts about Christopher Columbus (some of these will need fact-checking as I doubt he didn’t discover Bolivia because he was skiing in Switzerland).

The strength of the show is its ability to effortlessly drift between making serious political points while at the same time doing so with a silly, almost childish sense of humour.  All involved are clearly quick-witted and savvy political satirists: as demonstrated by one savage put down from Fraser to an over an enthusiastic heckler.

Despite this being a recording of a podcast, it managed to maintain somewhat of a stand-up vibe to it: Zaltzman and Fraser working through material like a comic would a routine, it was slick and no edits or retakes. The pair bounced material off each other and clear love what they’re doing.

Even the audience managed to get in on the act with possibly the toughest LS Lowry quiz ever and a short Q & A session near the end. Not everything worked, and there weren’t any laugh-out-loud moments but there was enough political savagery, sublime silliness, and puns, (goodness me Zaltzman loves a pun!) to entertain both die-hards and casual fans of the show.

The evening ended with a rendition of Happy BirthdayZaltzman, orchestrated by Fraser in lieu of her not getting him a present: based on this show the Bugle is still a gift that keeps giving and giving.

Reviewed: 7 October 2018 | Image: Contributed                                                                                                       

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Sharp satirical silliness

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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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