At a time when politics seems to be satirising itself, political comedians are in danger of finding themselves out of work. Matt Forde is one of the few exceptions to this. Gradually shifting into the role Ben Elton filled in the late 80s, he is succeeding where the Spitting Image revival failed, combining anger, comedy and intelligence to deliver an hour of stand-up that goes beyond just mocking the people he’s attacking.
In the twelve months since he was last at the Fringe, Britain has seen three Prime Ministers and two First Ministers. The parallels between the political situation in Scotland and the UK is immediately brought into focus with Forde’s opening joke and is extended elsewhere as he talks about Donald Trump, the corrupt politician’s corrupt politician. The time when English based comedians could be accused of forgetting that the Scottish Parliament even existed has long since passed.
The rich seam of material that has been opened up by the Conservatives, SNP and Republican Party is mined relentlessly. Rishi Sunak’s inability to drop an upbeat tone that doesn’t match with the words he’s saying, Humza Yousaf’s failure to realise that repeating the most extreme charges made against the SNP is providing his opponents with a never ending series of soundbites, and the prospect of Donald Trump creating his own oath as he swears on the bible in court, are three of the stand out longer pieces in the set.
They are linked together and combined with telling dissections of other politicians and also of their policies. The Stop the Boats pledge in particular comes under fire, but Forde skilfully finds new angles to take as he talks about his hopes for the remarks Gary Lineker might have slid into his Match of the Day commentary when his BBC exile ended.
The weakest part of the show is when he turns his attention to the Labour Party and Keir Starmer. Whether this is because they are where his political allegiances lie, they are not currently in power, or because Starmer really is as dull and uninspiring as his critics make out is open to debate. But at least he deems them worth spending a reasonable amount of time on, the Lib Dems and the Green’s don’t even get a mention.
It’s a solid hour of comedy that shows it’s not just politicians that can turn politics into a joke.