Lembit Opik turns to stand-up

Deposed MP makes comedy debut

Deposed Lib Dem politician Lembit Opik is planning a new career as a stand-up comedian – and has his first ‘open spot’ booked in for next month.

The former MP, who has just lost his Montgomeryshire seat after 13 years, is no stranger to shows such as Have I Got News For You, where he has been mercilessly ribbed for his colourful private life and political views – including dating a Cheeky Girl and campaigning for a defence system against asteroid collisions.

But now, as he looks for a new career, he will be exploiting his experiences for his own ten-minute routine at London’s Backstage Comedy Club on June 2.

The show is promoted by Robert Meakin, a journalist who occasionally edits The Independent’s Pandora gossip column, which is how he got to know Opik.

He said: ‘Before the election, he told me he fancied coming down and doing a bit once the campaign was over. Of course, he didn’t know he was going to lose…

‘But he called me on the Saturday after the election and said he was still up for it, and said he’ll do ten to 15 minutes of observational material based on his misfortune.’

Meakin says Opik is likely to get a sympathetic reception at his club, based at the Café Koha in Leicester Square. ‘Packed, it only holds about 70 people,’ he said. ‘And they are a warm, nice crowd – this is not some terrible bearpit. I’m fairly sure he won’t get bottled off or anything.

‘Lembit says he’s still adjusting to life outside the Commons, and he’s dipping his toe in the water of comedy to see what it’s like. He’s always fancied doing it.’

It’s not the first time the 45-year-old has turned to comedy. He performs a cabaret turn in Westminster social events with Labour MP Stephen Pound and Tory Nigel Evans; and the three he has also taken part of a special night at London's Amused Mosse with Pound and another Conservative to decide which party was the funniest. But this gig, when he will appear on the same bill as ventriloquist Nina Conti, will be his debut on a normal club night.

‘He’s got plenty of material to work with,’ Meakin said. ‘But how it will come out is quite another matter…’

Published: 18 May 2010

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