Political Animal

Andy Zaltzman yet again proves the perfect host for this cerebral, late night comedy showcase

Review by Tom Hackett | 10 Aug 2007

This stand-up showcase, which forces its frequently top-notch comedians out of their comfort zones to talk for fifteen minutes on political topics, is still one of the best and most original around. Andy Zaltzman is the perfect host, genial and genuinely enthusiastic about the rest of the bill. His cerebral, surreal, effortlessly topical material introduces a show that’s often extremely intelligent for its late-night time-slot.

Audience interaction at these gigs can take a strange form, with the comics being fed quite serious political subjects that they then have to run with. The best moment of tonight’s show is Marcus Brigstocke’s minor set-to with an American audience member, who politely suggests that there’s not much you can say to definitively characterise a country of 300 million people. “Well, thank you and it’s a very good point,” says Brigstocke, “but if I can’t generalise at a stand-up gig…”

That said, Paul Sinha’s original and practically abstraction-free set also goes down a treat. His fresh and subtle takes on religious dogmatism and the difficulties of living ethically are new to most of the crowd, but warmly appreciated nonetheless, demonstrating what an effective showcase this can be for intelligent comedy. The only unsuccessful performance is by John Gordillo, who, new to Political Animal, seems frankly bewildered by the experience, rendering his very decent material a bit flat in delivery. You take your chances at this show, but, more often than not, are amply rewarded.