Andy Zaltzman Boldly Unbuttons The Cloak Of Civilisation, But Is Perplexed And Perturbed By What He Finds Lurking Beneath.

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

‘Qualified satirist’ Andy Zaltzman has become part of the Fringe furniture by now, delivering his annual state-of-the-planet address full of overwrought metaphor, contrived analogy, and overcomplicated jokes.

Sometimes he picks his words perfectly. His take on the ‘give a man a fish…’ maxim about alleviating world poverty, for example, is a beautifully pithy summary of global economics. He’s not always so sparing with his language, however and can launch into diatribes about all that’s wrong with the world that become too convoluted and wordy to ever be funny, even if the argument is flawless.

He’s frighteningly well-read, and his set swoops around every great – and quite a few not-so-great – issues of the day, pulling together stands to make thought-provoking points such as how British Gas owner Centrica could alleviate global child poverty in an instant. He’s not so much stand-up comedian as stand-up commentator – a label that’s especially apt given his penchant for sporting analogy.

Often the point is better than the joke, but when he can distil the grand ideas into a punchline of pure silliness, it is quite special. There’s certainly enough of these in the first half of the show to justify the ticket price, even if some fall flat. But since he is preaching to the choir, his audience is forgiving of the slips, joshed along by Zaltzman’s willingness to joke about the performance of individual lines.

Part two is shakier, as he returns in velvet jacket and lime-green bow tie – his mad-professor sprawl of ginger hair meaning he’s one of the few people able to pull that look off. He’s here to announce the ‘Zaltzman World Awards’ in topics such as democracy and hypocrisy.

The mcguffin doesn’t work very well, with the enforced structure slowing the gags right down, especially the strained mea culpa finale in which Zaltzman accepts he’s just as much part of the world’s problem as anyone else.

Zaltzman’s often been a comic who needs editing, and the same is true of this year’s offering, which is about 25 per cent genius, 25 per cent valid arguments, and 50 per cent ‘huh?’

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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