If you’d never seen Matt Kirshen before, as he begins his set you’d be forgiven for thinking you were merely watching an overly enthusiastic sound technician, such is his affably nerdish demeanour. However, one quickly realises that Kirshen is the real deal and a joke technician of the highest order. Kirshen’s great strength is his nuanced, thoughtful and near impeccable writing. He revels in leading his audience down one stream of consciousness before yanking you back to something he may have said 10 minutes earlier.Kirshen himself describes his show as ‘50% politics, 50% embarrassment’, and applies his scimitar-sharp craft to his own rich history of humiliation, and to politics, in equal measure, blending and weaving the two themes with aplomb. While diatribes against the New Right in the US have been executed better by other comedians (largely ones with a bit more ruthless bite than Kirshen), routines about the BNP and a gig he once did in the Shropshire wildernesses are right on the money.What prevents this from being a better show, ironically for a stand up who has trotted the globe, is a lack of charisma. While Kirshen’s material is excellent, some of its effect is lost in his bookish delivery. Indeed, sometimes Kirshen gets so excited about the upcoming gag that he seems to rush slightly, meaning that (even in a small venue like the Belly Button) some of the routine is lost. Nonetheless, Kirshen’s show is an impressive one and well worth a look.