Andy Parsons: Citizens!

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

It doesn’t take a mastermind to figure out Andy Parsons’s take on British life. It’s shit, we always expect to be shit, and when it does indeed turn out to be shit, we love nothing more than moaning about precisely how shit it is. Cheerful disappointment is the default state of the perverse British psyche, and it’s an attitude that resonates through the Mock The Week star’s near two-hour show.

The nominal theme is that he wants to build a revolution against all the incompetence, hypocrisy and greed. But unlike more strident comedians such as Marks Thomas and Steel, who try to whip up passionately indignant protest, Parsons knows that at the end of the day, we’d all rather curl up on the sofa. ‘What do we want?’ goes his rallying cry. ‘A pie and a kip!’ ‘When do we want it?’ ‘Ooh, we don’t want to make a fuss.’

So for all his attempts to highlight the evils of power or the folly of short-sighted Private Finance Initiatives to fund government projects, the biggest cheer of the night is reserved for his rant against Trinny and Susannah. If he’s got any agenda, it’s just to take the piss, not to save the world.

His self-deprecation on a national scale has certainly found an audience, thanks to that TV exposure, and he as good as sold-out the 800-capacity Curve theatre in Leicester. There’s got to be plenty of new fans in that lot, so you can forgive him for dusting down a few old routines for their delectation; the ‘stupid, stupid George Bush’ lines get an airing before they’re completely stale, Gary Glitter gags make a comeback, while an old segment about making a prank call is justified with a link to the Jonathan Ross debacle.

Many of his opinions would be shared by most moderately well-read observers, but Parsons always has a pithy way of saying it, reducing most issues to a silly one-liner. For all the comedians railing against dangerously blinkered creationists, for instance, Parsons nails it in one gag. Mock The Week has trained him well.

Two hours is too much for most comedians, and it’s true here, too, especially given Parsons’s semi-detached delivery. That peculiar speech pattern with its in-built dramatic pauses means he has one of the most distinctive voices in comedy, but despite some attempts at banter, he tends to talk at the audience rather than to them.

But even without the support act he probably needs, Parsons makes this theatre feel like a comedy club writ large, delivering a great joke or two about every topical issue of the past couple of years. No headline is left unridiculed.

The revolution might not start here, but if you want to chuckle at the shortcomings of a nation that created the knock-off Lapland theme park or rates Michael Crawford as a greater Briton than Stephen Hawking, Citizens is the show for you. You’ve gotta laugh, haven’t you…

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Leicester, February 2009

Review date: 15 Feb 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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