Chris McGlade: Northern Monkey | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Chris McGlade: Northern Monkey

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

The Fringe has a plethora of voices - but very few working class ones, especially those that challenge the neoliberal status quo.

That’s the view of Redcar comedian Chris McGlade, who wants to bring a flavour of the working men’s clubs he usually plays to the bleeding heart of the enemy territory.

So he kicks off with the quick, harsh jokes from his usual working environment to establish dominance. With a dizzying onslaught of sharp jabs he mocks everyone: two blokes together? Must be gay. A woman? I won’t objectify you, he insists. Polish? Must be a fruit picker.

The insults feel reductive, though you can’t fault the pace with which he lands the blows. And why shouldn’t he use stereotypes? He knows middle-class liberals have plenty of prejudices about his sort: racist, homophobic and ill-educated, that’s the image. People like him are the ones who are discriminated against by the ruling elite.

The class divide is at the core of his hour. He mocks London and their pretentious ways – getting a hipster version of breakfast when all he wanted was egg on toast and a mug of tea. Such pretensions are common comic targets, and by definition some of the class-based material feels clichéd since he’s looking at common archetypes. But the inflamed delivery is compelling.

To underscore his point, McGlade picks one working-class bloke from Hull in the room and an Edinburgh lecturer and compares and contrasts the Greggs-loving Yorkshireman with the well-bred Scot who has fruit in a bowl at home, ‘even when no one’s died’.

The comic’s relentless mockery has one heckler pipe up on behalf of the middle-class guy, saying McGlade shouldn’t be so derisive… even though the target himself has no such objections. There could be a parallel there with the liberals taking it on themselves to stand up for minorities, and it certainly proves McGlade’s argument that people are trying to police his thoughts.

It’s no surprise to learn that he has no truck with political correctness, insisting that he’s not any sort of -phobic, but should be allowed to say what he wants, in the language he wants – even to have the right to hate if he wants – a stance set out in a passionate, heartfelt poem at the end that offers a fierce polemic against the liberal establishment, and some thoughts they would never approve.

If you’re in that bubble and want to know why the Brexit vote went the way it did, you could learn a lot from Northern Monkey. It was not just elderly racists: McGlade, a die-hard socialist, voted Leave as a kick in the teeth to an elite that ignores people like him, other to rule on what they can and cannot say. He hopes this is the first shot in a new class war.

Much of what he said, I’d certainly disagree with: not least whether Brexit will really aid the worse off, or hit them hardest. Trump got in on a protest vote and is quickly dismantling laws that curb corporations while introducing tax reforms that benefit And who is the latest to rail against political correctness but another Oxford-educated old Etonian millionaire who demeans minorities in a craven attempt to become Prime Minister? Somehow the elite have a habit of winning.

But it’s healthy to be challenged, and McGlade is a firebrand preacher of a comic and 100 per cent authentic when it comes to his robust opinions – and the liberal complacent might benefit from a little shaking-up.

One thing we can sure both agree on, though, is the need for the Laughing Horse to sort out his neglected dungeon of a venue – not least the lighting, all of which is behind him, so not a single facial expression could be determined in his silhouette.... wihich is important. It's another example of The Man trying to keep the working classes in the dark.

Review date: 9 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Laughing Horse @ Espionage

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