Tom Houghton @ Gilded Balloon

The former Noise Next Door chap is best when posh and proud

Review by Ben Venables | 08 Aug 2017
  • Tom Houghton

Tom Houghton recounts how, when accosted by a working class Geordie, he found it better to own up to his poshness with unrepentant confidence. It proved the correct approach, and this show soars when it explores if Houghton truly belongs with those he describes by the collective term “the posh twats”.

His dad is General Sir Nicholas Houghton, Chief of defence staff, Knight Grand Commander of the British Empire, and his home address is the Tower of London. And what's intriguing is that when Houghton hits a privileged swagger he shows himself as a skilled anecdotalist who can bring the tower's Tudor ghosts to life. We'll go further: Houghton is at his best as an all-out braggadocio, recounting a journey home from a night's escapades, taking the walk of shame past Traitor's Gate.

Yet he wants to have his cake and beef-eat it, having us believe he's a bit of a class traitor. Growing up in a military family, the young Houghton preferred musicals. Packed off to boarding school he tells of his isolation, how he was the victim of bullying and the long term affects of being separated from the opposite sex. Momentarily, he seems poised to go all George Orwell on us, who famously spilt the beans on his own unhappy English boarding school years in the essay Such, Such were the Joys.

The trouble is, it brings us back to the fact there's just much more of a sparkle about Houghton when he forgets his sensitive side and celebrates the debauched, the phwoarish and borish – all the guess-what-I-did-in-Amsterdam? stuff. In other words, when he embraces the class into which he was born. True, he's a lot less likeable to us oiks – unbearable, to be frank – and he sounds the PC-siren as he drips entitled testosterone all over the place. But when he accepts he's a posh twat, he's all the funnier for it.

Tom Houghton: Class Half Empty, Gilded Balloon, Teviot (Wee Room) until 28 Aug, 5.45 pm, £8-10

This review is based on a preview performance