Saturday, 9 March 2013

Stand up for the antidote to recession

Stand up comedy is something I always enjoy (if it’s good) but can never remember afterwards (however good it is). So I’m glad I remember one telling line of Alistair Barrie’s from the show I went to last night.

Alistair Barrie
Got me laughing at the Cameron clowns

‘If David Cameron thinks that money doesn’t make you happy, why doesn’t he hand some round and see if we can find ways of cheering ourselves up?’

It seemed particularly appropriate on the day that Cameron, having claimed that his austerity economics hadn’t damaged growth, found himself contradicted by his very own shiny new ‘Office for Budget Responsibility’: it told us that it had already reduced its growth estimates by 1.4% to take account of the impact of government cuts.

The government’s response was brilliant: ‘The OBR has today again highlighted external inflation shocks, the eurozone and financial sector difficulties as the reasons why their forecasts have come in lower than expected.’

Forecasts lower than expected? Let’s be generous and assume they meant to say that performance had come in lower than forecast – nothing surprising that this particular government has trouble getting its ideas in order. Or do they really mean that they have higher expectations of forecasts than they do of the economy?

That confusion aside, did you see what the government spokesman did there? He ingeniously switched attention from Cameron’s failure to realise that the negative impact of its policies had already been taken into account in the forecasts, to focus instead on the fact that even the revised forecasts were too optimistic. And made that look as though it was good news for him.

Why, it’s almost as clever as stand-up comedy. In fact, I’ve thought for a while that Cameron’s cronies ought to consider recycling themselves as a clown act. They might not be up too much, but what a relief it would be for the rest of us if they stopped trying to pretend they could govern us.

Until that happens, though, I’ll stick with the professionals. They made a good evening for us yesterday. It was all the better as my son Nicky had flown in from Madrid to join us. When the compere thanked someone in the audience for having travelled down from Sunderland, Nicky nearly pointed out that he’d come from far further. He thought better of it though, which seems wise: it’s never a good idea to attract the attention of anyone on stage at a stand-up show.

Nicky had mostly come to see Stewart Lee, who was brilliant, in a set different from anything I’ve seen him do before: a send-up of Canadian stand-up, all the funnier as the Canadian Tony Law wrapped up the show, with material as good as Lee’s.

So we enjoyed ourselves, though my wife Danielle enjoyed it rather less, debilitated as she is by a chest infection she’s having trouble shaking. Still, I think she was glad she came.

It was also good that the show was a benefit for a charity, War Child, that supports children affected by war. The name inevitably gave the comedians a couple of opportunities:

‘Delighted to be supporting the war against children,’ said one.

‘Terribly ashamed to be supporting a charity helping train child soldiers,’ said another.

The evening reminded me why I like stand up so much. And having a good laugh at David Cameron’s expense was wonderfully therapeutic. It
s the antidote we all need to the despair generated each time he does or says anything and the recession deepens.

No comments: