Underbelly George Square, Edinburgh
I’m not sure what to expect from this show and, I have to confess, I’m not really looking forward to it. I’ve been a little bit disappointed with the political comedy I’ve seen so far this year: it’s been good on the comedy, but a bit lightweight politically, mainly lefties – and yes, I am one – criticising other lefties for caring about identity politics and calling out racism. It’s not that the comics don’t have some good points, just that it all feels a bit hackneyed, and it hasn’t opened my eyes at all, or made me look at anything differently.
Geoff Norcott, on the other hand, manages to do just that. I’m relieved to find that he’s quite serious (for a comedian); he’s not a novelty shock-jock right-winger, which is what I feared he’d be, haranguing socialists, making the same points as the other comics, just more forcefully. Instead, he’s thoughtful and insightful, and clearly more of a centrist than anything else. I don’t agree with his politics, but I like the way he expresses them, and he makes some very convincing arguments. Mostly, he demonstrates what gets lost in the world of BTL comments that I read on-line: it’s possible to express right-wing views without being – or even sounding – remotely fascist. And it’s possible to debate a point of view, being open to having your mind changed if the other person says something that resonates, that you realise is right (his line about EU fruit pickers, for example, really gives me pause for thought). And he’s prepared to listen, inviting the audience to contribute their ideas (although we don’t; we seem to be a reticent crowd tonight, despite our laughter showing that we’re happy to be here).
He is funny too, mocking himself as much as anyone. There’s an intensity to his delivery that makes me warm to him, and I’m genuinely interested in what he has to say. If politics could always be this engaging and enjoyable, I don’t think it would be such a dirty word.