Reviewer: Karen McCandless
If you want to leave a comedy performance feeling uplifted and positive about the state of the UK today, then The Brig Society probably isn’t for you! Well-known comedian Marcus Brigstocke brought his show to Curve, Leicester part of his latest UK tour. The show was first previewed at this year’s Edinburgh Festival as part of the Assembly programme.
Brigstocke’s humour is of the more intellectual variety. Sharp and witty, he often deals with some serious, political topics while waxing lyrical about the failings of society and politicians.
While Marcus Brigstocke is a very funny man, he is also a very angry man. To be more specific, he is very angry at the British government – David Cameron, George (Gideon) Osbourne and Jeremy Hunt (that’s Hunt, you have to be so careful) in particular. Brigstocke opened the show with some more light-hearted and topical banter about the US elections before delving into more hard-hitting comedy.
The Brig Society mocks the UK government’s concept of the ‘big society’. A concept where basically, he says, the government puts the onus on the general public to do for free what they won’t pay for. At the heart is the premise that we’re all supposed to look after each other but really it’s just another government spending cut initiative. So it’s really no surprise that Brigstocke is so angry! This is actually a surprisingly educational performance as Brigstocke explains the origins of the financial crisis and how the global recession came about in comedy terms. And with an audience surprisingly willing to part with their cash during the performance (he did give it back in the end).
Brigstocke fully involved the audience in the show but not in that cruel way that many comedians favour (yes, that’s you Frankie Boyle). The sequence where Brigstocke took money from the audience (and even a jacket off the back of one poor, unsuspecting university lecturer) to illustrate the corruption of bankers was inspired.
At times a bit preachy and self-righteous, this is, however, clearly a topic that the comedian is very passionate about. It is like one long rant that just spirals out of control. Some alternative material that didn’t deal with the big society would have been particularly welcome. He also throws some surprisingly harsh words the way of Jimmy Carr and even Paddy McGuiness (a bit of bitterness, perhaps?) But, to balance it out, he also talks about the events that have made the British public proud of ourselves – namely the Olympics and Paralympics.
Overall, this was a show that not only made you laugh, but also made you think, while inspiring you to take action. If only the government might come to the show, take heed of Brigstocke’s approach and actually listen to the man (or woman) on the street.
Reviewed on 7 November 2012