Live Review: Matt Forde – Brexit, Pursued by a Bear

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Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 20/01/2020.

Matt Forde’s a well known political satirist and impressionist who’s hosted four series of his topical comedy show Unspun on Dave, as well as appearing on a number of panel shows like Have I Got News For You and 8 Out Of 10 Cats, and even though I’d never seen him perform beforehand given his career I thought I’d be in safe hands, especially as a bad show at the Soho Theatre is an extremely rare event indeed.

It did actually start in a vaguely promising way too as Forde discussed the state of the Conservative party, taking pot shots at the way Boris Johnson speaks and the idiocy behind Theresa May’s attempts at handling Brexit, the Irish border issue especially being pretty funny stuff, and though his impressions aren’t exactly up there with Rory Bremner or Jon Culshaw they’re good enough that you can recognise who he’s mocking.

But after the initial ten minutes the show took a dive in a way that I’ve never witnessed before, becoming painfully unfunny by the middle section. This was due to after vaguely satirising the state of the Conservatives (though I’m not convinced Forde really has any issue with the party as a whole, as he claims Boris has a certain level of charm, and that it’s okay to be right wing, something I personally have never believed) he spends a good half of the show tearing in to Jeremy Corbyn.

Ignoring my own political stance (for the record I’m fond of the man, but feel he definitely made some glaring mistakes) Forde’s material just isn’t funny. It’s the kind of thing you’d have seen on Twitter six months ago, and not from comedians either but just random members of the public. It’s on the nose, obvious and lacking in invention or wit, the kind of jokes which you might hear down the pub from that bloke who thinks he’s funny after a few pints but boy, that truly isn’t the case at all.

Forde also makes some statements about Corbyn which I believe are point blank false too, all but stating that the man is without doubt 100% racist, it’s almost like he’s a spokesman for the right wing newspapers like The Sun rather than a comedian at this point. He also mocks the Labour manifesto even though what he’s joking about makes no sense, they were pro-exercise in the form of encouraging people to walk more, for instance, which for some unknown reason Forde finds hilarious.

Going on and on about Labour and the antisemitism issue in the run up to the election he repeats himself in a tiresome manner, all the while ignoring the Conservative’s problems with it at the same time – the Wikipedia entry for antisemitism in that political party is a long and horrible read, and Forde has clearly done his research given everything else he talks about so it feels like a glaring omission not to mention it at all.

He chucks in a few barbs towards the Lib Dems and the SNP, and there’s a minor dig at Farage, but compared to his anger towards Corbyn it feels like a minor poke in the ribs than anything he’s truly angry about, before ending with an impression of Trump and Boris which is limp and doesn’t say anything that a million people haven’t said before. At one point in the gig a joke is so poorly received that Forde admits he won’t be doing it the following night, and depressingly I found myself wishing that had applied to about 90% of the material he did this evening.

★1/2

Alex Finch.
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Related Link:
Matt Forde’s Brexit, Pursued By a Bear is at Soho Theatre until Saturday 25th January before embarking on a nationwide tour. Matt will visit London’s Southbank Centre Purcell Room on 10th and 27th March and London’s Bloomsbury Theatre on 2nd May. For full tour information please visit www.mattforde.com/live

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