You’re calling on the punters to suggest topics for new show Satirist For Hire – what have been some of the strangest requests they’ve submitted so far?
One man asked for a “shout-out” for his wife’s 30th birthday and another wrote a passionately worded request for me to address the issue of Gareth Bale’s transfer to Real Madrid. I have also been asked to deal with the social timebomb that is spray-painted street performers who stand still for money. Clearly, all issues that are of infinite political import.
What is the most difficult target to satirise?
Education can be quite difficult, as the results of any political machinations relating to it will not be visible for years. At which point, it would be a little late to satirise it.
What topics have been grabbing your attention recently and why?
Syria, for obvious and depressing reasons. The Ashes, because I am obsessed with cricket. And the idea of Britishness and what it really entails, because lots of people bang on about it but no one seems to agree on it.
Is it difficult to satirise politicians, as they often do such a good job of making themselves look ridiculous all on their own?
It can be. I think the natural reaction to watching PMQs [Prime Minister’s Questions], for example, is a kind of disappointed nausea, as if you have just been served a still-twitching, lukewarm rat in a supposedly excellent restaurant.
What is it specifically about politicians that makes them so difficult to satirise?
It can be hard to wade through the swamp of half-truths, half-lies, willful delusions and the opportunistic grandstanding that forms much of our political discourse to work out exactly what is going on.
If you had to choose three people to satirise who would they be and why?
[Fifties British female vocal trio] The Beverley Sisters. It’s time someone took them down a peg or two.
Do you think there is a dearth of political comedy these days?
A lot of emerging stand-up seems to involve daftness and whimsy.Stand-up is an increasingly broad medium, with room for all different styles. There is not a great deal of political stand-up, perhaps in part because of the lack of political comedy on mainstream television [but] daftness, whimsy and politics can co-exist in the same joke.
Has anyone you’ve mentioned in your comedy ever confronted you about it?
No. Other than my wife, who found parts of my routine about delivering our second child in the bathroom “unnecessarily detailed”.
What advice would you give to any budding satirists out there taking to the stage?
Be funny. Or try to be, at least. Points without jokes don’t really count.
How do you approach the writing process: do you seek inspiration or do you have to be disciplined and sit yourself down to write?
It is largely a process of stumbling from one deadline to the next, for my podcast, The Bugle, a radio show, or for a new stand-up show. If necessity is the mother of invention, then deadlines are the rogue, stick-wielding aunt of the writing process.
Where and when was your first gig as a stand-up?
I hosted a comedy night in my college at university. The main act didn’t show up and so the organiser asked me to fill in for as long as possible.
How did it go?
I spent half an hour drinking whiskey and Guinness before going on stage and as a result, I have no idea what the set was about, but it went well enough for me to try doing it again, more sober.
Your co-host on The Bugle John Oliver had a stint presenting on The Daily Show – should regular host Jon Stewart be worried?
It was excellent. So good, in fact, that it raised the possibility that one day, he might be ready to host The Bugle. I think Jon Stewart is big enough and old enough, in comedic terms, not to worry about much. Other than the Syrian crisis spilling over into global armageddon.
Photos: David Bebber