Geoff Norcott: Conswervative | Review by Steve Bennett
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Geoff Norcott: Conswervative

Note: This review is from 2016

Review by Steve Bennett

Scotland has built a viable tourist industry on a rare sightings of a mythical beast, so here’s another one: the nice Tory.

And Geoff Norcott’s decision to fully come out – having admitted to Conservative tendencies in the past – probably couldn’t be better timed. Politics has become more divisive than ever, amplified with the echo chamber of social media that means your side is all good, the other is all evil. But the truth is more complicated than that, so how’s about a bit of mutual respect and understanding? That is supposed to be the left’s territory, after all.

A show in one of the tiniest rooms the Underbelly has to offer is not doing much to offset the overwhelming and understandable leftie bias of the Fringe, but it’s a small concession to the festival’s ‘defying the norm’ slogan this year. For being a Conservative in comedy is certainly not normal.

Conswervative is not, though, a right-wing diatribe, rather a personal story of how he came to form his political views. He comes from a working-class family, his father a trade union activist, and he grew up on an estate (his gag about which is a bit hack, but there we go) in Wimbledon, where the wealth gap was immense.

First-hand experience of benefit fraud certainly informed his views on that issue, but he says it was while teaching where his politics began to gel, the egalitarian ‘everyone’s a winner’ ideals of the left taking a battering against the realities of overindulged children told they are brilliant. It’s there he started thinking tough love might be a better policy.

Similarly his views that the NHS needs reform – particularly in terms of seven-day working – come from his experience that sometime the staff aren’t faultless exemplars of professional brilliance. And why should consultants take weekends off when cancer doesn’t. The issues are clearly far more complex than he goes into, but he can be indulged, thanks to his likeable approach.

He offers a ‘heckle amnesty’ about two-thirds through the show, which he flags in advance, for people to tackle him on his views. But he’s given a pretty easy ride today, there are a lot of people on his side, identifying as Conservative. Even coming out as a ‘leave’ voter, potentially even more contentious than being a Tory, gets echoes of applause.

Norcott’s a very affable performer, and admits he doesn’t have all, or possibly any, of the answers. In any case, the politics is never as entertaining as his personal anecdotes – his one-armed father being a prime source of stories – which form the basis of this amusing and easy-going hour.

So you might think he’s wrong, but at least he’s not being a dick about it.

Review date: 20 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Bristo Square

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