sat 15/06/2024

Andy Parsons, Touring review - reasons to be cheerful | reviews, news & interviews

Andy Parsons, Touring review - reasons to be cheerful...

Andy Parsons, Touring review - reasons to be cheerful...

...Even if the country's falling apart

Andy Parsons's latest show covers a wide range of subjects and leaves us on a positive noteAndy Hollingworth

In the middle of another age of austerity, a climate crisis and seemingly intractable international conflicts, it's cheering that a comic should tour with a show called Bafflingly Optimistic. Even more so when that comedian is Andy Parsons, whose sardonic humour – much of it about the British and Britishness – could never be described as rose-tinted.

Parsons has carved out a solid career with his intelligent takes on the British political landscape and his thoughtful ruminations on where we are in the world. He knows his stuff, as evidenced here by a tour de force treatise on economics; if ever you wanted to know how quantitive easing works and what the role of the Bank of England is, this is the show for you. That makes Bafflingly Optimistic – which I saw at Basingstoke Haymarket – sound serious, but it isn't. Parsons has too playful a nature for that and the show is filled with hootingly funny lines.

He introduces himself by way of charting his less than stellar achievements; he may have won a most beautiful baby award, but it was in a poor year, he says; and yes, he's appeared in two films, but they were never released. Self-deprecation, he says, is central to the British sense of humour.

Parsons is a family man and his children get a few mentions here; while wondering what sort of future they may have, he questions whether his parents' generation really is responsible for sucking up the wealth of the nation, as is so often said. Tell that to his poor old dad, waiting for a cataract operation, caught in a downward spiral of public service cuts that affect every area of his life. There's nothing Boomer about that.

In a wide-ranging show, Parsons takes a pop at several politicians – no surprise lockdown party animal Boris Johnson is mentioned – but the comic most memorably describes our flash-in-the-pan prime minister Liz Truss as “The tin of borlotti beans at the back of the cupboard”. Beats being a lettuce, I suppose.

He also talks about gender issues – and has quite the funniest take I have heard on the subject – culture wars, cancelled comics; even why the sainted David Attenborough is not beyond criticism. He touches on American politics too, giving his lowdown on Donald Trump's weird fascination with Taylor Swift.

As ever with Parsons, this is thoughtful, well constructed comedy that acts as a useful state-of-the-nation assessment while making us laugh. And, leaving us on a positive note, he tells a delightful anecdote that sums up everything he loves about Britishness, saying there's hope for us yet. Let's hope he's right.

He also talks about gender issues, culture wars, cancelled comics


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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