Geoff Norcott is a Leave-voting Tory comedian. Chris Bond caught up with him to talk politics and comedy ahead of his gig in Sheffield next week.
You can probably count the number of mainstream comedians who are Leave-voting Tories on the fingers of one hand. Geoff Norcott happens to be one of them and he’s back on the road with a new tour, Traditionalism, which heads to Sheffield next week.
The title, as he explains, is a deliberate one. “We hear a lot about how we’re making great progress in terms of gender and how we see ourselves. But I’ve got this hunch that for most people in Britain not much has changed.
“I think there’s a lot of people, like me, in the middle who want to be a progressive person but on the other hand when Theresa May talks about who takes the bins out and it being a boy job, you go ‘yeah, that is how it is in my house.’ And it’s about not being afraid of that side of you that’s a bit old-fashioned.”
Norcott also believes that a lot of the big issues today are nothing new. “We seem to think we’re the first generation to have big debates on feminism or mental health but they just come around with different names.
“There’s a phrase now called ‘woke’ which means people who are into issues of social justice, and it used to be called being ‘right on’, or sanctimonious.”
He believes the Brexit vote highlighted the divisions that exist in this country. “Some of the political disaffection has come from people feeling they’re excluded from the narrative and there’s truth in that.”
Norcott has been plugging away on the comedy circuit since 2001 but it’s only in the last couple of years that he’s made his way on to TV thanks to shows like Mock The Week, Live At The Apollo and The Mash Report.
However, he’s encountered some cynicism over his politics. “Some people think I’m making it up just to get on telly. The truth is I’m not making up my political views but I am milking them for all their worth,” he says, jokingly.
“I went on Mock The Week and did a couple of fairly mild jokes about Remainers but the reaction on Twitter from Remainers was quite violent because they didn’t expect that safe space of theirs to be pierced.
“To be fair there are a lot of Remainers who are happy to have the mickey taken out of them as well. But at the same time I think what we’ve lost in Britain, and what we used to be so good at, is the old-fashioned mickey taking.”
His show, he says, isn’t edgy or in your face. “It’s about poking fun whether it’s at the Tories, Labour and even the Lib Dems – I’ve come up with a couple of jokes for those two guys just to make them feel included...”
It’s also a blend of social commentary and observational comedy. “If I went to see a comedian, I wouldn’t want to hear politics for a whole hour and a half, because the last thing you want is a comedian preaching at you,” he says.
“I think people realise that politics can just be a laugh, unlike online where everything descends into a bun fight. At a comedy gig you can sit next to someone with wildly different views and have a laugh without it falling into acrimony.”
Geoff Norcott is at The Leadmill, Sheffield on November 15.