This is a difficult year for political comedians at the Fringe. Global politics has been so catastrophically bizarre in recent years that most of us are sick to death of the big news stories, and it’s a real challenge for comedians not to repeat the jokes being cracked in every venue in the city. The two fundamental truths of this year’s Fringe seem to be that Donald Trump is a moronic cartoon, and we’re all a bit confused about Brexit – and I was really hoping that Matt Forde might bring a gust of fresh air with a show focused on ‘recent events’.
Unfortunately, while entertaining, Forde’s show feels a bit routine and fails to deliver any sparkle to differentiate this seasoned performer from any other political comedian. Forde has been performing at the Fringe for several years, and appears regularly on the BBC and Dave, with his show Unspun. While A Show Hastily Rewritten in Light of Recent Events – Again! is funny and enjoyable, it didn’t live up to the high expectations I had of such a veteran crowd-pleaser.
The best thing about Forde’s show is his impressions of famous politicians. These are many, varied, and hilariously, belly-achingly spot on. Again, there was a lot of Trump – every comedian’s favourite caricature – but a least it was a good impression.
While blatantly ridiculing extremists, Forde is careful to keep his comedy near the middle of the spectrum. It’s not clear where exactly he stands, and he doesn’t seem like a man pushing his own political agenda, but rather someone a bit fed up with the incompetence of absolutely everyone on both sides. This lends him a universal charm and brings the audience along with him, whatever their political leanings.
The show flows well, smoothly transitioning from one subject to another, with impersonations weaved in throughout. As is to be expected there are a lot of niche references to specific events or people, but these are well-crafted so as not to alienate audience members who may not get the joke. The context is either explained, or quickly followed by another joke about something else.
There’s no doubt that Forde’s show is extremely polished and professional, but it was almost excessively so, coming across as a bit cold. That said, he clearly has a highly informed insight on today’s political landscape, and the show is well-written and expertly delivered. His true genius, I think, is his incredible talent for impersonation, and it is this alone that makes the show worth going to see.