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Matt Forde: Dishonourable Member

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Now the Fringe programme has got its long-awaited cabaret section, can we also have one for ‘confident public speakers who are sort of engaging but don’t really have enough jokes in their hour to qualify as a comedian’. There are a lot of them about, and Matt Forde is among their number.

He sets out his stall reasonably enough, telling us this is going to be an hour about his passion about politics, which he equates to his love of football in general and Nottingham Forest in particular.

His sincerely is not to be doubted, as he explains how he got into politics and the thrill it gives him. But therein lies a problem, he *explains* his love of politics, without really sharing it. ‘Exciting’ is word he uses a lot, but it shouldn’t need to be spelled out – show don’t tell.

Before he gets to this there are a couple of amusing anecdotes about how he met his hero Brian Clough – always good for a yarn – and his time as an Alan Partridge tribute act in Nottingham’s infamously grimy Rock City nightclub.

But then some very predictable stand-up fare bridges the show into the politics: the standard ‘how I sent a saucy text to my dad’ story, or complaints that the news always describes missing children as ‘popular and hard-working’, never a loser.

Forde is not a political comic in the vein of Mark Thomas or Mark Steel, instead he wants to personalise his engagement with politics – he’s been a campaign worker for Labour for the best part of a decade – and convey why it’s important to him.

Yet he also philosophises about the merits of the London mayoral candidates, explains why he supports the Iraq war, or laments the racist connotations of the St George flag. This is all very well and good, but this contains about as many laughs as the Chilcot Inquiry. In fact, you might think that Forde has jokes he can deploy, but in the final reckoning, it turns out he hasn’t.

Ironically for someone who bemoans the dearth of big personalities in politics, Forde doesn’t really let his own shine though, beyond being an engaging speaker and a seemingly genuine guy. But simply sharing an opinion with a laugh in your voice is not enough to win the comedy vote.

Review date: 6 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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