wed 17/07/2024

Matt Forde, Purcell Room review - politics plus deft impressions | reviews, news & interviews

Matt Forde, Purcell Room review - politics plus deft impressions

Matt Forde, Purcell Room review - politics plus deft impressions

Astute state of the nation material from former Labour man

Matt Forde used to be an adviser to the Labour Party in the Tony Blair years

You might think that, given the upheaval we are living through, political comics would be 10 a penny but, surprisingly, they’re thin on the ground. Regardless of how any rivals he has, though, Matt Forde is surely the outstanding political comic working today.

Brexit Through the Gift Shop is his latest state-of-the-nation show and, despite his previous career as a Labour Party adviser and his avowed Blairite, pro-EU views, it’s one that anybody who is remotely politically engaged can enjoy, not least for Forde’s breadth of knowledge and the way he distils the complexities of modern politics into comprehensible anecdotes, which have the bonus of being very, very funny.

He doesn’t sit on the fence on any issue as he opens the hour by telling us that the old divides of left and right no longer apply; the current diving line is: are you completely mad or not? What follows is a neat dissection of much that ails us – dissembling  leaders, Russia's criminal enterprise, Labour’s position on Europe, Scottish independence and much besides.

Blair, Johnson, Alex Salmond and Ken Livingstone are cheerfully lampooned

As the title suggests, much of the show is taken up with where we are now with Brexit, the cynical opportunists who have got us here and the shocking incompetence of politicians tasked with negotiations. Dominic Raab, David Davis and Boris Johnson are eviscerated one by one, their inadequacies in offices of state laid bare. Describing Johnson’s reported “fuck business” comment earlier this year, Forde quips: “A Tory saying that is like the Greens saying ‘Fuck the dolphins’.”

This is no dry polemic, rather an engaging and  well crafted performance written by somebody who knows his stuff. And Forde’s aim is at anybody in the political process he regards as disingenuous, dishonest or just plain delusional – although his takedowns of Jeremy Corbyn’s positions on the EU and anti-Semitism in the Labour Party are heartfelt.

Forde is also a talented minic and several politicians – Blair, Johnson, Alex Salmond and Ken Livingstone appear among a large cast – are cheerfully lampooned. (Female voices that he can’t do, such as Nicola Sturgeon, he finds an inventive way to project.) But we have to wait till towards the end of the show for his best impression – Donald Trump, whom he catches with uncanny accuracy as he describes the US President’s latest idiocy.

The gags come at breakneck speed, so much so that Forde sometimes trips himself up when delivering them, but then he does add new material as events unfurl, which makes the show bang up to date. The night I saw him, Forde  worked in a nice routine about an MP caught up in a scandal, a callback to which provided the show’s inspired ending.

  • Matt Forde is on tour until 18 May 2019
This is no dry polemic, rather an engaging and well crafted performance written by somebody who knows his stuff


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters