Nice posh chaps appear to be thin on the ground. They have a reputation – whether or not it's a fair one – for being chinless idiotic snobs, out of touch with how out of touch they are. Then, in waltzes Tom Houghton like a breath of fresh air: posh and owning it, likeable despite it, he doesn't hide his background but he doesn't take credit for it either. Instead he offers a peek behind the curtain of privilege, making the wildly unrelateable relatable, finding common ground through an unreserved humble frankness and plentiful good humour.
Houghton shares his history: a hugely successful military father, boarding school, an alienating love of drama, and currently living in very unusual accommodation with his Dad. It's eccentric and delightful, fresh and funny. Houghton's story is one we haven't heard before, and he brings us in on the ground floor of a lifestyle where many bizarre things are taken for granted. He has a great way of incorporating extra laughter-filled asides into his already fascinating stories.
But none of that privilege has saved him from the familiar pratfalls of growing up. There are levellers throughout; Houghton's life of travel and love-life embarrassments may be uniquely framed, but the results are considerably less than six degrees of separation from the majority of us. There's a social equality advocate unfolding here, as his growing-up and adult mishaps reveal an underlying recognition of what he has been gifted with, and a sympathy towards those who have been marginalised.
Houghton's stagecraft is a credit to his many years of experience in acclaimed improv group The Noise Next Door. He has an eagerness to please, and an ease on stage that elicits an absolute confidence in him, whilst staying happily short of arrogance. His energy is high and his audience connection constant, even when pushing his nice-guy persona limits with material that can go to the juvenilely graphic.
Houghton offers a new perspective – one that isn't usually voiced. As he notes, most people tend to disavow any accusations of poshness, but by embracing his background he's made himself one of us. He's funny, relaxed, and enjoyably unassuming; you'd happily go for a pint with him, for this funny posh man has put us all utterly at ease. Now that's class.