Matt Forde: Brexit, Pursued By A Bear | Edinburgh Fringe review by Paul Fleckney
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Matt Forde: Brexit, Pursued By A Bear

Edinburgh Fringe review by Paul Fleckney

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need comics like Matt Forde. As he makes abundantly clear at the start of his latest show, Britain is basically screwed at the moment. The least we can do is have some gallows humour about it.

One of the good things about Forde’s satire is that he gets into the meat of what’s going on, instead of just skating across the surface to serve a few jokes. He tells us exactly what a no-deal Brexit is likely to bring, and even dares go into the details of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement to show how the Irish backstop is fundamentally flawed. 

It sounds like comedy death, but it’s concise and provides substance to the relentless character assassinations. 

Forde gets a good 15 minutes material on the Conservative government, and with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, he gets to whip out his impression, which is completely on the nose. I’m not normally an impressions guy, as it’s so often just showboating. But  Forde  has the good manners to let the impressions illustrate and augment the material, rather than crowbarring them in for the sake of it. It is, and I don’t say this lightly, justifiable impressionism.

A pedestrian aspect of Forde’s act is that it is just a run-through of all the major politicians, a predictable and general sweep. Nigel Farage, Mark Francois, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Rory Stewart, Jeremy Corbyn, the Change UK lot … As a Tony Blair fanboy, Forde is always going to do that. He rips into Labour and SNP as well as the Tories, although they remain his primary focus. It’s an occupational hazard for an out-and-out political comedian I think, but not one that fatally undermines his shows. 

It should also be said that yes, Forde stalks very familiar territory if you are politically engaged and obsessed with Twitter (hi), but I'd guess his audience may not be so familiar with all the flaws and failures he discusses. 

It’s fair to say the jokes are more original and interesting than the opinions they’re based upon. This is not phoned-in satire. The highlight for me is his speculation about what the first Johnson-Donald Trump meeting will be like, and how these two narcissists might be different in vital ways. It moves us away from the ‘Jacob Rees-Mogg said WHAT?!’ stuff, and is a funny and astute routine (and his Trump impression is unimpeachable).

So this is important state-of-the-nation stuff, getting the word out there about the insanities and realities of our  political situation. But the kicker for me: boy does it feel dated. It is like watching Rory Bremner shows in the 1990s, which is both a compliment and not a compliment.

Review date: 21 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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