ANDY PARSONS MAKES SENSE OF IT ALL
Published : 12/Mar/2017
We live in interesting times – so thank goodness for Andy Parsons, a comic who can make sense of what's happening at home and abroad, and make us laugh about it. And as the title of his new show suggests, he's holding nothing back.
"2016 will be remembered for the EU referendum and Donald Trump and Boris Johnson and Michael Gove," Andy says. "So if I have to summarise the show, it's asking has the world gone mad, what it means to be British in 2017, what it means to be a patriot - and is it true that we only like immigrants if they can win us gold medals at the Olympics?"
In person, Andy is more quietly spoken and laid-back than the "Mr Angry" persona fans know and love from BBC's Mock the Week, which he appeared on for ten years. He enjoyed the run, he says, but the limitations of seven comics recording a half-hour show meant that complex points about that week's events often had to be whittled down to a few soundbites. "We would rarely get a chance on Mock the Week to discuss anything contentious – such as terrorism or tax credits or Syria. I mean, David Cameron wanted to bomb Syria in 2013 and 2015 but in those two years he had completely changed his mind as to which side he wanted to bomb. It seemed he wanted to bomb both sides. That didn't seem like a coherent foreign policy – more like somebody who had some bombs that were coming up to their use-by date"
Andy, who was born in Dorset, now lives in south-western London with his medical statistician wife and their young son, and admits that there is a metropolitan London bubble - but touring the country is the antidote to that. "It doesn't matter where you live or what your politics are, the same things – health, education, jobs, pay, crime – affect us all. There are many things we can all agree on. For instance, Philip Green should not have been allowed to sell BHS to a former bankrupt with no history of retail experience for a quid. I would have made a better owner of BHS. I've got no retail experience, I'm not a former bankrupt and I've got a quid."
Andy rejects the notion that people are not interested in politics - "Look at the turnout for the referendum," he says – and, judging by the sell-out audiences at the recordings in London's Soho Theatre for his monthly podcast, the Slacktivist Action Group, it seems people are very much interested in politics. Each month Andy invites three guests from across the political spectrum – a politician, a journalist and a comic – to talk about something topical that they are passionate about.
“I think people really are hungry for political debate because, while we are being bombarded with information, you could argue that we know much less about the world we live in - what with the growth of fake news on the internet and if people really don't trust experts any more. There is so much bulls**t out there that people don't know where to go for their news and information. Apparently a lot of people are getting their information from comedy shows which given that they are comedy shows is very worrying. You ask any comedian “Why the chicken crossed the road?” and they will all give you a different answer."
Does he welcome fans who don't share his world view? "Of course – let's face it, I'm often not even sure of my own world view half the time. And regardless of political persuasion, everybody can agree that all politicians are no longer the same given that Donald Trump has no political experience and that Jeremy Corbyn wears vests, has an allotment and enjoys photographing manhole covers."
And being such a politically engaged comic, is he prepared to make predictions? Andy laughs. "Nobody could have guessed what happened in 2016, so I'd be a fool to predict 2017."
The unpredictability of the news agenda means that he will be writing new material as the tour progresses – and if this year is as eventful as the last, he'll be a very busy man indeed.
ANDY PARSONS brings his new show, PEAK BULLS**T, to Theatre Severn on Sunday 28 May.