In a world-wide poll of the most popular British BBC characters, Benedict Cumberbatch's Sherlock comes out on top by a... Read more...
30th May 2012 5:06pm | By Editor
The political comedian on voter apathy, Noel Edmonds and pasties
What topics are catching your interest in the fortnightly Political Animal show?
The world is providing a depressing amount of material for political comedy, ranging from the elongated game of economic pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey that the world’s politicians have been playing for the last five years and which has resulted only in a very angry donkey with pins all over its body, to the multi-billion-dollar squawking contest that is the US Presidential election campaign, to the battle in British politics over the cuts programme, which essentially boils down to a partisan squabble over how hard to the smash the British public in the crotch, and with how pointy a mallet. Plus much else in between.
Why are we so apathetic when it comes to voting and current party politics?
I could write a book on this. It wouldn’t be a very good book, but it would be quite a long one. Others have actually written good and long books on the same subject. Briefly, I think there is a growing sense that party politics has become a game played by career politicians often with minimal experience outside their politics textbooks, that politics can do little in the face of the irrational beast that is ‘The Markets’, and that the most relevant and democratically effective opposition movements lie outside traditional party politics. The voting system for general elections, which renders the vast majority of people’s votes pointless, does not help. Plus the fact that, as a nation, we are obsessed with televised karaoke and watching people open boxes whilst Noel Edmonds looks on like the latter-day Moses he always dreamed of being.
What is the solution?
Can I get back to you on that one? I’m busy watching sport on the telly.
Is there anything funnier than David Cameron telling his story about munching on a pasty at Leeds train station?
No. Cameron managed to combine almost every possible strand of comedy in that one outlandish claim. It was surreal, conjuring an almost pythonesque image of a man who has clearly never had to eat from the budget end of life’s great buffet chomping nervously into the grey mulch of a pasty whilst thinking: “Have I proved myself a man of the people yet, and can I have some chewing gum urgently?” It was waspishly satirical, mercilessly sending up the way modern politicians make pointless populist claims in the endless scrabble for credibility. And it prompted a copycat imitation, as Ed Miliband felt the need to be filmed buying a pasty in a pasty shop, I think in an effort to prove that he is an idiot.
What was your first gig like and how did it go?
My first gig ever was in my college at university. It was drunken, and went quite well. My first real gig outside university was sober, and went so badly that I gave up stand-up for 18 months.
What was the funniest thing you have read this week?
A story we covered in this week’s Bugle podcast about a man who was accidentally voted in as Mayor by an Italian village. He only entered the election because his friend, who actually wanted to be Mayor, was worried there wouldn’t be a big enough turnout if there was only one candidate. So the man entered as a favour to his friend, had no manifesto or desire to win, but still won. A landmark moment for democracy, as the people of this heroic Italian village rose as one to say: “We would rather have someone who actively did not want to be involved in politics, than a would-be politician.”
What are your predictions for the Olympics?
Excitement will, in the end, beat complaints, although it should be a titanic battle. Usain Bolt will run fast, but not far. Britain will be left with a fervent passion for equestrian dressage that will endure for centuries, and be matched only by its love of skeet shooting. Given the almost Soviet extent of the military preparations for the Olympics, I think Seb Coe might be planning to launch a coup and install himself as President Of Britain.
Where: Soho Theatre, W1D 3NE
When: May 28 (and fortnightly thereafter)
Tube; Oxford Circus
Andy Zaltzman is currently touring the UK with Armchair Revolutionary