Andy Zaltzman

Andy Zaltzman

An Oxford classics graduate, Andy Zaltzman emerged on to the stand-up scene in 1999, when he was a finalist in the So You Think You're Funny? talent contest.

The following year he was chosen to take part in the well-regarded Comedy Zone showcase at Edinburgh, and also made the finals of the Daily Telegraph Open Mic award. His solo Edinburgh debut, Andy Zaltzman versus The Dog Of Doom, was nominated for the Perrier Best Newcomer award in 2001.

Zaltzman has worked extensively with John Oliver. In 2004, they launched a satire night in London and Edinburgh, called Political Animal, which transferred to Radio 4, and since 2007 have hosted The Bugle, a topical podcast for Times Online. They also wrote and starred in three series of The Department, again for Radio 4.

He performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival for the first time in April 2007, where he won the coveted Piece of Wood Award for the comedians' comedian.

Zaltzman has also written for several series of Bremner, Bird and Fortune, and in November 2008 his first book, entitled Does Anything Eat Bankers? And 53 Other Indispensable Questions For The Credit Crunched, was published.

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Andy Zaltzman gets philosophical

Comic follows ancient schools of thought for R4 series

Comic Andy Zaltzman has spent three weeks living by the teachings of various ancient schools of philosophy for a new Radio 4 series.

The satirist, who studied classics at University College, Oxford, is to be a stoic, and epicurean and a cynic in the programme, My Life As…

Every week he will be given a set of tasks to teach him a philosophical lesson in the school of thought he is studying for that episode.

In the first, scheduled to air on November 17, he will tackle stoicism, and discovers that it’s ‘nothing about keeping a stiff upper lip and suppressing my emotions’.

Premiership rugby club Saracens hold weekly classes in stoicism and special forces recruits are taught its insights: the value of virtue for its own sake and how to make the best of what is in our power, and take the rest as it happens. 

The show also features mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown, a follower of stoicism.

In episode two, Zaltzman will be following the epicurean philosophy that arose in around 300BC in Athens.

 Epicurus set up a school of philosophy called The Garden, where his followers lived and supposedly shared all their possessions. For Epicureans, the goal of life is happiness or pleasure, rather than virtue, but they tended to live simply and eat simply.

And for the third episode Zaltzman ‘thinks it should be easy’ living as a cynic given his job, but ‘soon finds out how wrong he is’.

The school gets its name from Diogenes, who lived in a barrel in Athens and who was nick-named ‘kynikos’, or 'dog-like', because he lived in the street and fed on scraps

The cynics’ philosophy is based on puncturing the false belief that the most important thing in life is to win success and status, often with philosophical pranks.

Comic Mark Thomas is one of those helping Zaltzman understand that way of thinking.

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Published: 27 Oct 2017

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