There is much to despise and condemn about those whom we elect to govern us. Evidence of corruption, incompetence, venality and self-interest are exposed on a daily basis. Perhaps we do have cause to be grateful to our politicians, though, for the rich and fertile seam of comic material they unwittingly provide.
Few comedians have mined that seam so assiduously or successfully as Rory Bremner, whose Election Battlebus Tour 2010 kicked off in Hove. The sold-out show, divided into stand-up followed by a Question Time-style debate, displayed the full range of Rory’s talents as both peerless impersonator and lethal satirist.
The hilarious and pitch-perfect take-offs of the Labour and Tory old guard (Tony Blair, David Blunkett, William Hague, John Major et al) drew huge laughs and applause from the mostly middle-aged and middle-class audience. Rory’s five-year absence from the touring circuit might have produced the odd wobble or bum note, but his routine was as slick and sharp as you could wish.
He rocketed through his repertoire with a confidence and class that was breath-taking.
Non-political figures such as Les Dawson, Louis Walsh and Graham Norton where tossed casually into the mix. Ironically, Rory’s creaky, non-PC Les jokes got some of the biggest guffaws of the night.
The show’s second half brought Caroline Lucas (Green Party, Brighton Pavilion); Charlotte Vere (Tory Party, Brighton Pavilion); cartoonist, Steve Bell and surprise guest, Geoff Atkinson (Rory’s long-standing producer) to the stage. During the (over-long) interval the audience had the opportunity to jot down any questions they’d like answered.
This part of the evening was less engaging and more scrappy than the earlier gleaming, machine-tooled stand-up. Predictably, the pair of politicians offered platitudes rather than answers (although Ms Lucas acquitted herself well and was a hit with the crowd). Steve Bell and Geoff Atkinson provided the bulk of the humour, aided and abetted by Rory in his role of Paxman-lite.
During the final minutes of the show an elderly member of the audience, Alfie, raised the issue of the closing of the Special Needs School in Ovingdean. He spoke haltingly but passionately, and praised Rory Bremner for his God-given talent, which momentarily left Mr Bremner speechless and blushing (or perhaps that was a trick of the light).
So, a brilliant and highly enjoyable evening. If you weren’t there, do try and catch Rory Bremner at another Battlebus venue. The show should heat up nicely as the election draws closer.
The Old Market 23 March