Geoff Norcott

tl;dr: Geoff Norcott is very good indeed. If you get a chance to see him, take it.

One of my CounsellMedia clients is Edinburgh comedy agency Marlene Zwickler and Associates, representing, amongst others, Daniel Sloss and Jimeoin [also appearing at the same festival]. But, a couple of weeks back, I went to the Southport Comedy Festival to check out some of the competition, not least of all because the comic in question, Geoff Norcott is considered one of the more prominent members of a “dissident” mini-movement of non-“woke” stand-ups at the moment, alongside the likes of Simon Evans and Konstantin Kisin—even to the extent of there now being comedy evenings dedicated to “free-thinking comedy“.

You can check out Konstantin interviewing Simon about wokeness in contemporary comedy here.

[I call them by their first names now because they are Twitter mutuals, which is basically like we served in the World War I trenches together.]

Fellow Twitter mutual and showbiz friend [this second bit is a lie] Geoff Norcott isn’t just a Centrist or a free-thinker; he’s an actual, self-confessed Conservative-with-a-capital-‘C’ and Leave voter. I’m a Leave voter myself, but no Tory—even with Jeremy Corbyn and his cranks running the Labour Party right now—so I took along one of yer actual registered Tories with me for market research purposes.

And we both had an excellent time. Not just thanks to Norcott, but also thanks to the organisers of the festival who had set his show up in a lovely, intimate room in the Vincent Hotel and did their best to make us feel welcome and found us seats together despite the unallocated layout. Even in such a close-up, exposed setting, Norcott exhibited no hint of nervousness and one impression that persisted long after the show was over was how fluent he was throughout. Like an accomplished writer of pop songs, his style is “eloquent vernacular”: using everyday language (and everyday situations) to convey subtle and non-obvious ideas, while being consistently funny. The speed, unflashiness, and density of his line-spinning is such that he can even leave some of his best asides almost to be swallowed by the laughter at his main gaglines.

Ironically, given that he is mostly known to non-fans for his politics, it was his first, more domestically oriented, set that was the most effective. While he made the case for there being real differences between the sexes that he thinks that large parts of the Left have been foolish to ignore or deny, he used that fact, mostly, to make gags at the expense of men: from their huffing out of WhatsApp chat groups over trivia to their frankly abusive behaviour towards each other in public. And, of course, he found a couple of male audience members at the front to single out for particular mockery (one of whom gave as good as he got).

That’s a particularly pleasing thing about the niche Norcott occupies/has helped to create, that you find yourself all the more conscious of when you’re watching someone of his class and political leanings perform in a northern seaside town: His material is free of the racism and crude stereotyping of the proverbial unreconstructed 20th-century working-mens’-club comic, but he is their equal in his battle-honed technique and rapid laughter-delivery.

So, yeah, go to strike a blow against the conformist left-Liberal comedy blob, but stay to hear some thoughtful material about how we relate to each other that’s both funny and makes yer think, and to enjoy a real pro at the top of his game—even if I don’t do his Website.