Geoff Norcott

Edfest Bouquets 2017

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It was another fantastic three weeks at the Fringe for us. We crammed in as many shows as we possibly could – and still barely managed to scratch the surface. Here’s our pick of the best we saw this year. Congratulations to everyone mentioned.

Theatre

Seagulls – Volcano Theatre

Peer Gynt – Gruffdog Theatre

The Power Behind the Crone – Alison Skilbeck

Safe Place – Clara Glynn

Pike Street – Nilaja Sun

 

Comedy

The Darkness of Robins – John Robins

Kinabalu – Phil Wang

Dominant – John Robertson

Mistress & Misfit – Shappi Khorsandi

Oh Frig, I’m 50! – Richard Herring

 

Story Telling

One Seventeen – Sarah Kendall

These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone – Will Greenway

The Man on the Moor – Max Dickins

Eggsistentialism – Joanne Ryan

Blank Tiles – Dylan Cole

 

Special Mentions

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical – Aria Entertainment & Flying Music

Up Close – Chris Dugdale

The Cat Man Curse – Pelican Theatre

Cathy – Cardboard Citizen Theatre

Well Meaning, but Right Leaning – Geoff Norcott

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Geoff Norcott: Right Leaning but Well Meaning

18/08/17

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.

4.4 stars

Susan Singfield

Comedy Store, Manchester

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11/10/14

It’s Saturday night in Manchester and we’re in for the 7 pm show, which though not sold out, is decently packed with punters in search of a good laugh. By and large, they were well-served tonight.

Host Alun Cochrane, has a genial and engaging personality, that comes across from the moment he steps out on the boards. He scores immediate brownie-points for telling me that I look a good ten years younger than my actual age, though I do inevitably become the butt of several quips throughout the evening. Cochrane demonstrates his professionalism early in the proceedings by deftly defusing a potentially dangerous situation, when a well-oiled gentleman with a pizza takes exception to a couple of digs made about his tattoos, but you can’t expect to sit near the front in a show like this and not be picked upon. How the gentleman comes to be so well-oiled by 7 pm is a matter for conjecture, but Cochrane handles the situation brilliantly and the show goes on.

First up is Paul Tonkinson, who has a nice line in physical comedy. His impersonation of a wheat-intolerant person and his demonstration of what his lady friend looks like after a few drinks are undoubted highlights and the laughs, generally of the ‘we’ve all been there’ variety come thick and fast.

Geoff Norcott is a Londoner and there’s much mileage made about how Northern audiences differ from those on his home turf. He has an affable style, that once again milks the audience for laughs and the revelation that there’s an Olympic gold medallist of the Tai Kwondo persuasion sitting in the front row is seized upon to generate some gold medal laughter.

The second half begins with David Hadingham, another Londoner, who offers routines about speeding on the motorway and the differences between men and women. Of all the performers tonight, his material is perhaps the most hack, but he doesn’t disgrace himself and manages to rescue his set with some outrageous quips that have you wondering whether you should laugh or cringe.

But the most confrontational jokes of the night come from headliner, Roger Monkhouse, who has a sly and intelligent patter that often slips into ‘I can’t believe I just said that’ territory. He receives some (good natured) heckling from a couple of Scottish punters and responds with a series of excoriating putdowns, that absolutely flays them alive; but his good-natured, smiling persona allows him to go further than many comics would dare to and he still walks off to heartfelt applause. It’s a dangerous tightrope but he walks it expertly.

Overall, a good night and as the crowd is shunted swiftly towards the doors (there’s a second show at 9 pm) we wander out into the night with the distinct impression that we’ve had a decent (if a little safe) helping of comedy entertainment. One caveat: it would be nice to see some female comedians on the bill. We’ve recently returned from the Edinburgh Festival where some of the best performances we saw were by women.

3.7 stars

Philip Caveney