Tom Houghton: Class Half Empty

There are many indicators of class membership in British society, but if you have lost count of how many times you’ve been in the same room as the Queen, then it’s a safe bet that you’re somewhere near the top.

Houghton delivers an hour that is genuinely refreshing

As the son of the former head of the UK’s armed forces, Tom Houghton belies the received wisdom that relatability is nine tenths of the law in standup. He has lead a life unimaginable to most of his audience but Houghton’s privileged background provides plenty of material in a solid solo Fringe debut.

Houghton shows no signs of nerves on the opening day of the Festival. He is clearly comfortable on stage and his relaxed manner allows him to give a sense, among other things, of what it’s like to grow up with bodyguards during The Troubles in Northern Ireland, without alienating his audience. In another comic’s hands, there could be a very real and present danger of humblebragging, but the Carry-On sensibility of his anecdotes about being a camp, theatrically-minded youngster in a military environment ensures that Houghton keeps everyone onside in the early exchanges.

Though the show is more conversational in style than anything else, there is no real narrative or throughline. Instead, what ties the various anecdotes together is the idea that, no matter what your background, the important thing is to recognise it for what it is and try to own it. Houghton doesn’t overegg this potentially clichéd idea though – he has enough self-awareness to recognise that there are problems obviously greater than some of those experienced by the well-to-do. Or as he so succinctly puts it, he doesn’t have a “struggle” like so many groups have had throughout history, he just has issues.

Routines about empathising with the monarchy, the wisdom of ducks, and living in the Tower of London sit nicely alongside each other and could work just as easily as stand-alone pieces. The show would benefit with a little bit more in terms of structure though, something more than the odd callback or pun to knit the whole thing together.

In avoiding the well-worn stereotypes that are normally associated with ideas of class, Houghton delivers an hour that is genuinely refreshing – a deceptively adept comic and definitely one to look out for.

Reviews by Ryan O'Connor


Alex Smith – Real Man


Josie Long

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Tommy Tiernan: Under the Influence

theSpace on North Bridge


Venue150 at EICC

Frankie Boyle: Prometheus Volume I


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Solo debut by the former star with a guitar of The Noise Next Door as silver-spooned rebellion hilariously collides with privilege, elite military tradition and outrage. A fabulously positive show about taking risks and embracing the unknown with wicked gags and perhaps a song. As seen in The Noise Next Door and on Channel 4’s First Dates. Leicester Comedian of the Year finalist 2017. ‘Hilarious: one of my favourites – an utter class-hole and bloody funny’ (Daniel Sloss). ‘Impressive!’ (

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Frozen the Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets