Opinion: I’m A Comedian…And I’m A Conservative by Geoff Norcott

When I first ‘came out’ as a Conservative I had heated conversations with comics and pantomimic shocked reactions from audiences. I guess it was pretty shocking: a comic voting in line with just over a third of the population. Whatever next? A Christian? It’s amazing what goes on behind closed doors.

I’m currently writing a show for this year’s Edinburgh, which includes pro-austerity and NHS privatisation routines. This is a tough sell at a leftie love-in like the Fringe. It’s like taking a string quartet to Ayia Napa.

Apparently one of the reasons you can’t be a Tory stand-up is good comedy involves ‘kicking up’. I don’t like this metaphor. In reality, kicking upwards demands flexibility and strength. In stand-up, it’s the less demanding route. If you want an applause break just mutter ‘Cameron, bankers, Starbucks,’ followed by a daring swear word and the crowd will be whooping like Jeremy Hardy at a Communist rally.

I’m not sure comics ‘kick up’ as often as they think. Some of my favourite left-wing comics seem to have no trouble lampooning various working class sub-sets for comic effect on Radio 4. I’d say an urban teenage boy is fairly powerless - yet he’s been the target of a lot of bile and shit impressions. Do you get me?

Nevertheless, it’s hard to make people laugh if the victim is too low status. I tried a pro-Bedroom Tax routine once. I would’ve got more laughs if I’d poked a disabled Koala with a stick.

The pressure of being a Conservative comic has eased up a bit recently. Post UKIP – and their first comic apologist - people have realised it could be a lot worse. Farage’s mob haven’t exactly bundled the Tories into the cuddly centre ground, but it’s like a relative working out the difference between old age and dementia.

Whatever I vote on May 7 I am not and never will be a ‘Tory’. To me Tories smile in a disconcerting way and thought it was funny when Boris used the phrase ‘Wiff-Waff’. I grew up on a South London council estate; ‘Wiff-waff’ was what posh people called the likes of me in private.

I call myself ‘Conservative voting’ because that’s my current intention. I don’t understand picking a team for life. It’s not football. You’ve every right to switch colours when your lot contain fading veterans or look like going out of Europe. Voting is a sphere where the charge ‘Glory-hunter’ should be a testament to you having done the research.

In truth, I’m voting for Cameron as much as I’m voting for the Conservatives. I don’t mind him. As a comic, I understand the force of personality. A good Prime Minister is like a strong compere in a rowdy comedy club. The idea of Ed Miliband being the first on stage troubles me. He’d be only minutes in before he tried unsuccessfully to shush Putin’s boisterous table - over-eagerly trotting out a stock line like, ‘Yeah…well…I remember my first pint…of lager’.  To which Putin would bellow, ‘I THOUGHT WALLACE LIKE TO DRINK TEA’ and the whole club would fall into open revolt.

Cameron wouldn’t be that funny, but at least he’d have command of the room. There would be blind-spots however. I’d like to see him try and shush a screaming hen by saying ‘Calm down dear’.

Maybe that’s Cameron’s role. He’ll never be a headliner like Blair or Thatcher, but he might be able to settle the room so the next act can express themselves.

More info on Geoff Norcott here.

Geoff Norcott appears on Question Time on 14/12/17.


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