Geoff Norcott: Conswervative

Geoff Norcott, as he points out quite early on in his set, has not been seen on television. On the face of it, this is a real shame; he's photogenic enough, and has the kind of sharp-witted jokes that would go down well on screen. Except… Showing remarkable restraint (or assuming that his audiences are intelligent enough to work it out for themselves) he resists labouring the join-the-dots – that the reason he’s not made it onto any of the panel games brimming with stand-up comedians is because his politics are considered “wrong”. For Norcott is a self-declared Conservative voter; he does insist, though, that he’s not a Tory.

Norcott is like many a politically-minded stand-up at the moment, desperately forced to tear up his script given the speed of political changes in the last few months

Regarding ‘the Tories’ he makes just as damning comments about Theresa May’s “Cabinet of James Bond Villains” as any so-called left-leaning comedian you might find on the Fringe. You sense this isn’t just out of some precautionary form of self-defence; he actually means it. Norcott is like many a politically-minded stand-up at the moment, desperately forced to tear up his script given the speed of political changes in the last few months, though Norcott admits to voting Leave himself.

If he’s tough on the Conservative Government, though, it’s not because he thinks much of the alternatives. He’s quick enough to mock goody-two-shoe liberals and lovers of Owen Jones (the Guardian columnist). Yet a significant proportion of the show isn’t about such Westminster Bubble tittle-tattle; he instead tries to explain how the experiences of his life influenced his politics. Norcott makes something out of how he grew up on an estate – though not one which employed a gamekeeper – and is the progeny of a long line of Labour supporters. (His dad was a lifelong trade unionist.) He, himself, was a teacher and JobCentre staffer. Sweating away at the coalface of education and employment, however, has given him a significantly different point of view, on the balance between charity and tough love, than you might expect.

There’s absolutely no doubting that Norcott is a funny guy; he’s good at setting up and delivering punchlines. If he occasionally asks – without a tinge of sarcasm – for his 'safe space', he’s equally open to feedback, designating the last quarter of the show with a Heckle Amnesty. In this respect, Fringe word-of-mouth is clearly spreading; while some early reviews noted a lack of audience come-backs; that’s shifting, not least because the show is beginning to attract people willing enough to publicly declare that they voted Conservative in 2015. It appears that even Norcott finds that somewhat disconcerting; but he’s clever enough to roll with it for some serious comedic results.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

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The Blurb

A trade unionist's son who grew up on a council estate, Geoff Norcott is wondering how he ended up leaning to the right. A motley South London upbringing may be the root of his more provocative views in this brand new 'satirically incisive' (Scotsman) hour of stand-up. 'Norcott is an absolute tonic' **** (Telegraph). 'Master of anecdotal story-telling' **** (Edinburgh Festivals). 'Genuine iconoclast... more importantly he makes it funny' ( Writing credits include Channel 4's Alternative Election, The Sarah Millican Television Programme, 8 Out of 10 Cats and The Now Show.

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