Andy Zaltzman: Touring Armchair Revolutionary
"It's always a battle to stop feeling politically jaded," Andy Zaltzman says when I ask if British politics has dampened the theme of his show since he originally performed it at last year's Edinburgh Fringe. "When I initially wrote it there was maybe slightly more optimism about it than there is now, but the basic issues haven't changed that much." His current tour, which is stopping off at The Stand (Edinburgh and Glasgow, 14 & 15 Oct respectively) will see him perform an updated version of the show titled Amrchair Revolutionary.
That's certainly not to say there's nothing fresh here though; even those returning will find plenty to chew on. "I'm always trying to find new stories and new angles, hopefully some new puns as well. Plus it's a longer show than when I initially did it in Edinburgh, so even better value financially, pence per joke." Having seen that original run I can assure you that this suggests remarkable value in joke terms.
Andy has to always keeps a fresh eye on the latest news and does not, as I suspected, just hold a large file of verbose similes. "The verbose similes tend to just arrive when I'm writing, I'm always watching the news and trying to find comedy in it, which isn't always easy depending on how depressing the news happens to be. Which is generally quite depressing."
His regular Bugle podcast with long-time collaborator and The Daily Show correspondent John Oliver is a consistently hilarious and scathingly satirical listen. The pair recently cracked the 200 episodes landmark, so I asked how long it might continue.
"I'd love to carry on doing it indefinitely. It might be that John's commitments eventually prove too much in America, but I want to carry on doing it as long as we can, as long as its viable." The duo has done well to keep the self-proclaimed 'audio newspaper for a visual world' viable since parting with their previous sponsors The Times newspaper, but are now having to set up a voluntary membership scheme. "I think one of the reasons we were able to give it time and energy to make it successful was because they were paying us for it, which is quite rare for a podcast. So we need to make it financially viable, we didn't want to charge for it and lose an audience, so we're gonna try a voluntary scheme and some merchandise."
As a well known sports fan I couldn't help but ask Andy about his overall impressions of the Olympics; "It was brilliant. As a hardcore sports fanatic, it doesn't get much better than taking in more sport than is medically advisable." He's hopeful that the Commonwealth Games might be able to follow up too, rebutting my suggestion it may not be quite as spectacular with the claim: "You've got bowls in the Commonwealth Games! I just hope there isn't too much bowls to scar it." It's not often that "too much bowls" is anyone's fear for Glasgow, but let's hope he's at least justified in his excitement.