Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Death Of A Comedian

I first heard about Andy Zaltzman (aka Zaltar The Magnificent, amongst many other aliases) through The Bugle podcast. If you don't know what that is, then first of all, shame on you, and second of all, its a weekly podcast (or audio newspaper for a visual world) brought to us every week by Andy Zaltzman and John Oliver (you know, the English guy from The Daily Show. No, not Louis Theroux. He's not even on The Daily Show. Yes, I know they're both English. Yes they are both quite polite but cheeky middle class boys. Yes they both have similar hair cuts. Yes, I know they both have glasses. But really, there is nothing remotely similar about them. They are totally different. Totally. Now shut up.)

I came late to Bugling, but am currently working my way through the back issues of what I would describe as a perfect combination of biting satire, 80s power ballads, bad puns, forced similes (no, not forced smiles: they come fairly natuarally!) and bullshit. The Bugle still runs as an independent podcast after times online cruelly sacked both our heroes a few weeks ago.

Armchair Revolutionary
If you take away the power ballads, then that is pretty much what you get when you see Zaltzman live. I met up with Sarah and Jack in the Soho Theatre bar and we were the first through the door. It was rather strange though as when the doors were opened, every one just stood around looking embarrassed. So, we got to the front row, where we settled down. We looked behind us and there didn't seem to be many people here. We did the same 10 minutes later and it was packed.

Andy gave a few fantastic lines pre-show back stage: "Ladies and gentlemen, the show will begin in approximately  6 minutes and 48 seconds, that's 6 minutes and 45 seconds", before we heard him give a theatre manager hell for not getting all his diva demands. He argued that he couldn't balance the fruit on his head before finding that the apple he was given was perfect for this role before the soon to be fatal accident occurred.
The end of Andy Zaltzman

Andy took to the stage with an arrow through his head, in a possible tribute to Steve Martin. He does have a unique look: Those of you who caught the BBC programme about the Late And Live comedy night in Edinburgh would have heard him abused as looking like Sideshow Bob, Mick Hucknall and many many others. But for me, I think of him as Charlie Chuck's son (If you don't know who he is then look him up).

He called NHS Direct and was eventually told that the arrow through his head would give him 66 minutes to live, so he decided it was best to crack on with the show. He had road tested some of the jokes in the most recent Bugle, so it looks like this show is constantly developing. He has an old fashioned looking radio which, he claims, will provide him with stories to satirise (he is fully qualified he tells us).

He hits the targets a Bugler would expect, but from an unusually silly angle. He even manages to speak on the current events in Syria and make us laugh, where an unqualified satirist may make us uncomfortable about such a terrible topic.

Finally 66 minutes is up, and Andy slumps back into his chair before the lights go out and the theatre assistant covers his lifeless body (perhaps another reference back to his infamous Manchester gig) with a shroud. We all awkwardly file out, nodding our heads in respect to this great man who gave his life for bullshit. Well except for me. I took a picture.

Armchair Revolutionary: You have until Saturday to see this show and you had better do.

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