Geoff Norcott at Leicester Square Theatre review: defiantly old school with healthy self-awareness

 (Karla Gowlett)
(Karla Gowlett)

Geoff Norcott has come to prominence in recent years as one of a small band of Tory-voting stand-ups. But even Norcott is having his doubts these days. On stage last night at the Leicester Square Theatre he said that when he currently reflects on the Conservative government he says of them: “Are you OK?”

Norcott is very funny on the current political landscape although, frankly, satirising Westminster in 2023 does make shooting fish in a barrel feel like a fiendish challenge. And despite his disillusionment he does not seem to have entirely defected. He describes Keir Starmer as the kind of man who goes on stag weekends to Amsterdam and spends his time visiting museums.

The 46-year-old Londoner’s new show Basic Bloke is more about the kind of men who like lager, curry and painting the town red rather than Van Gogh and Vermeer. Norcott wants to claw back a safe space for them in a world gone soft, where culture wars rage and there are even trigger warnings before Emmerdale.

This is Norcott’s comedic stomping ground. He is defiantly old school, albeit with a healthy sprinkling of self-awareness. Unreconstructed yet also reconstructed. He jokes about the fact that every man has a favourite motorway service station and then sends up the idea by acknowledging that his wife thinks his league table of lay-by catering outlets is ridiculous.

Some of his topics don’t exactly go off-road. He is hardly the first comedian to observe that when men gather they return with no knowledge whatsoever of each other’s emotional life, whereas women compile entire dossiers. But he has a teasing style which ensures that the laughs roll in like waves as routines build to big pay-offs.

The punchlines flow fastest when he talks about grappling with middle age. He is trying hard not be become an angry stereotype, but finds himself fuming at the price of puppies, the trend for designer mattresses and the way French people speak French. There is a clear subtext that things were better in the past – meaning further back than when we were in the EU for this Brexiteer.

Norcott is very much the acceptable face of right-of-centre comedy, although maybe he is now more floating voter than diehard Tory. At one point he describes himself as “middle lane”. Basic Bloke certainly cruises along nicely without ever breaking the speed limit.

Leicester Square Theatre, also on October13; Touring;