Geoff Norcott Occasionally Sells Out

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

Geoff Norcott is having one of those crises of conscience that sometimes strikes the jobbing stand-up. Performing at Butlins in Skegness one night, he ponders if he hasn’t sold out. Was this, he the thinks, really what he got into comedy for? The feeling is exacerbated by the fact he couldn’t get a prime Edinburgh venue for his heartfelt show about his mother’s death because he was considered too ‘mainstream’.

Well, corporate puppet no more! (At least on weeknights) Now the personable comic is going to say the the things that mean something to him, and hang the consequences. Such no-holds-barred honesty is the stuff that great stand-ups are forged from, right?

What he gets off his chest is, largely, what you might expect: religion, politics and doing the right thing. But what is less expected is the angle he takes... he believes in God, can see a case for war, and thinks he might be a Tory.

In the context of today’s stand-up circuit that makes him a genuine iconoclast, truly rebelling against the usual left-liberal-rationalist consensus. In the current climate, admitting sympathy for David Cameron is more taboo-busting than a paedophile gag (though he’s got one of those as well, courtesy of one J Savile) – even if he presents it without the rock and roll sense of danger of comics reinforced received wisdom.

After all, why isn’t there any right-of-centre comedian – outside of the supposedly ironic ones like Al Murray or Ricky Gervais? Is such political stance inherently so nasty that Jim Davidson is all that side of the political spectrum deserves?

Norcott’s not short of nice-guy credentials, expressing his support for gay marriage, for example. Though actions speak louder than words and it’s his amiable delivery that endears. Even when he attacks, it’s always affectionate: he may want to slash the pensions part of the social services budget, but does so by ribbing the profligate lifestyle of the over-65s in the room. And they love him for it.

This Leicester comedy festival show is the first outing for these thoughts (even the show’s title has yet to be cemented) and the narrative still needs a stronger through-line and an ending that better encompasses all that’s gone before, rather than the awkwardly engineered links he uses. Some of the latter sections about his teaching days, or a fight he got in to on holiday, aren’t quite as focussed on the theme as they need to be, either.

But the slick Norcott has an unusual point of view, which he delivers with a lightness of touch - and, more importantly, makes it funny. Those skills honed at Butlin’s give him a confidence and control, while he’s never less than affable. So even if he’s forever condemned to be ‘mainstream’ – he’s more interesting than the negative connotations of that loaded word would suggest.

Review date: 11 Feb 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Leicester Kayal

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