Comedy Reviews

Andy Zaltzman

21 August 2007 | Comedy Reviews
Originally published at The Groggy Squirrel

ANDY ZALTZMAN, 32, ADMINISTERS HIS AFTERNOON DOSE OF UTOPIA, STEPS BACK, AND WAITS TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS

If your budget for this year’s festival is a little lower than usual and you want to stick to the ‘safe bets’ rather than squandering your money on something dubious, Andy Zaltzman should certainly be towards the top of your list. Hard to believe he’s only been performing since 2000, Zaltzman is a seasoned satirist and a real Fringe institute.

He’s one of those natural comedians who you can’t imagine being anything else (he even resembles a clown with his receding mop of curly red hair) and though he often gives the caveat that the new show might be a little ‘shambolic’, it never ever is. He just talks and gold comes out:

Zaltzman: Where in the world is better than the United Kingdom?

Audience member: Switzerland!

Zaltzman: Why Switzerland?

Audience member: They have the chocolate.

Zaltzman: Yes, but how do they pay for all that chocolate? Nazi gold.

This year’s complexly titled show explores the idea of utopia and how we, the plebs, could do a better job of running things than any government. Zaltzman develops, with suggestions from the audience, a microcosmic society in the form of a flea circus. The end result is presumably different with each show.

In addition to ‘utopia’, Zaltzman is comparing the late night ‘Political Animal’ show at the Underbelly and performing at various nocturnal cabarets such as the notorious ‘Late and Live’ and the brilliant ‘Spank’. ‘Utopia’ takes place at a staggeringly early 3pm, meaning that Andy has to deal with audiences of the remarkably drunk and the painfully sober. It takes a good improviser to deal with both ends of the alcoholic spectrum in the same day.

The demographic of Andy’s audience is telling. A man behind me laughs loudly into my ear at anything vaguely political, to demonstrate that he ‘gets it’ and is up on the political zeitgeist. When Zaltzman asks about good alternatives to democracy, the answers that come back are “Philosopher King” and “Benevolent Dictator”. One member of the audience makes a heckle about the economic advantages of terrorism before announcing that he is a student of international relations. Political animals, one and all.

And this is Zaltzman’s brand: intelligent political satire with an absurdist edge. You can’t go wrong really.