Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z | Gig review by Steve Bennett at Leicester Comedy Festival

Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z

Gig review by Steve Bennett at Leicester Comedy Festival

Satire in the age of Trump will be a vexed question these coming four (or, god help us, eight) years – and that’s even without the Brexistential crisis. Reality is likely to be more insane than most comic commentators can keep up with.

But if anyone’s in a good place to tackle this tide of ‘unremitting bullshit’, it’s Andy Zaltzman. He is, of course, a super-smart guy with an overarching insight into political machinations. Even if he doesn’t, his professorial air is a brilliant bluff.

Zaltzman tackles current affairs with a forensic absurdity, wrapping astute comments in convoluted metaphors of labyrinthine complexity. This potent mix of the sublime and the ridiculous is certainly a world away from the easy, glib jokes of many topical comics, and often the florid writing distils into a sly one-liner that perfectly sums things up.

His other key schtick is to treat politics like his beloved sport, with its winners,  losers, hype and cliche-riddled post-combat analysis, a tried-and-tested Zaltzman-patented approach that makes the news accessible to those who might not be up to speed. Although with the savvy audience that comes out to his shows, that gap in knowledge unlikely. 

Of course that means he’s preaching to the converted – had the June 23 referendum happened just within these four walls it would be a 100 per cent landslide for remain – but there’s always security in knowing you’re among the like-minded.

In a similar juxtaposition to the commentary-box device, he often uses the pitifully inadequate language of surveys to try to gauge complex issues, mischievously undermining focus-group policy-making and the myth of black-and-white issues, and again make politics seem ludicrous.

However the unbroken 90-minute show – well, there is an eight-second interval  –  does suffer from a tonal monotony. Devices such as his ‘subtextanator’ that reveal politicians’ hidden messages, or reading from his alleged 2016 diary don’t really do enough to break up the mood. 

So the laughs tend to thin as Zaltzman serves up more of the same, but he remains fascinating in his silly and sardonic analysis. He certainly earns more than a few applause breaks for making very good points.

Maybe, after all, Plan Z is the best one we’ve got…

• Andy Zalzman: Plan Z is on tour until May. Dates.

Review date: 12 Feb 2017
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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