Chris Coltrane: Compassion is Subversive

Last year, with Activism is Fun, comedian Chris Coltrane explained how he had returned to political action after years of apathy, not least because – thanks to the likes of direct, peaceful protest devised by UK Uncut – he had rediscovered how much fun it could be (turning branches of Starbucks into creches, for example). His show this year rather lacks that biographical narrative; this is much more a facts and figures show, to the extent that he has to hold notes; though that sort of works. You sense he's not just making this all up off the top of his head. Still, that doesn't mean you're not going to have a fun time.

While Coltrane clearly admits to some leftist leanings and particularly targets the Conservative-led Government practising the old 'divide and conquer' routine - 'workers versus shirkers', 'strivers versus shirkers' , to distract everyone from their 'one rule for you, another rule for us' agenda - he's no less harsh on boring-to-tears socialists. Ed Balls (is his surname really that much of a problem?) and the Monty Python's Life of Brian tendency in the Left to keep splitting into smaller and smaller factions are skewered. Interestingly, the Liberal Democrats don't even get a mention, suggestive of how irrelevant Coltrane considers them to be.

You can sense Coltrane's genuine incredulity that we have come to the stage where showing any kind of compassion for our fellow citizens goes so against the current political orthodoxy that it can be thought of as 'radical'. This isn't just in matters of economics, either; in connection with the equal marriage campaign, he has one section of the show highlighting a top five of the 'Homophobic Things that Conservatives Say'. Admittedly, this is possibly where he's at his most partisan, given some of the stupid things that Labour and Liberal figures have said about homosexuality down the ages.

If he has an obvious failing, it's that he continues to offer a metropolitan-centric, UK view of the world in the capital city of a country where the NHS hasn't been privatised, where many current policies of the UK government are not applicable, and which might not even be a part of the UK in a few years time. Jokes about Edinburgh's unpredictable weather are all very well, but it's definitely not London out there.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues


Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre




The Blurb

Awesome political stand-up from activist Chris Coltrane. If kindness is a radical act, let's defeat Tories with love and punchlines! ‘One of few acts who are the future of British political comedy’ (Mark Thomas).