Geoff Norcott has been a regular on the comedy circuit for a number of years now. His writing credits include Have I Got News For You, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and Judge Romesh. He’s also a regular correspondent on satirical news show The Mash Report.

This month, Geoff resumes his Taking Liberties tour, where he’ll be talking about the challenges of being a right-wing comedian in a left-leaning industry. What’s On recently caught up with him to find out more...

What’s your story in terms of becoming a comedian, Geoff - was it a long-held dream fulfilled or a sudden and unexpected lightbulb moment?
It will probably annoy the modern 'career comedian', but I did fall into it. I was just messing about with an old mate doing a double act. He decided it wasn't for him, so I egotistically decided to honour the dates as myself. It was a mere six years before I learned how to be funny on my own!

How has the pandemic and lockdown impacted the material in your show?
I think it's made the show better because so much has happened since lockdown, and comedy does well throwing light in shade. Plus I can do an impression of blokes in petrol stations with a t-shirt pulled up over their nose. 

What do comedians do during pandemic lockdowns?!
We're just like everyone else - we do more stuff online. That was fine for a while, but there was a point when I was doing one show and had to mute a bloke because his dog was barking. From Live At The Apollo to doing crowd control on a laptop!

You’ve said you don’t like being told what to do, but is there anything we should be told to do?
Yes. Remember that social media is just the stuff people type whilst sitting on the toilet. The importance it's given is bizarre. You could get cancelled for something stupid you wrote while passing the time of day between movements.

What's your view on free speech in comedy - are there any limits, and if so, what are they?
The limit is the audience. On the whole, people are decent. If you get a joke wrong, the audience will soon let you know in the form of silence or contempt. It's a great system.

Why are there so few right-leaning comedians?
Well, based on my Twitter feed since that BBC announcement, it's because we're racist, sexist and exactly like Bernard Manning! The serious answer is there are a few more than there seem, but not everyone wants to talk about it.

Why is it, do you think, that Tories are ‘shy’?
I'm not sure they are so much these days. The moment the Labour Party got investigated for racism, it became less obvious to treat it as a simple case of goodies and baddies.

Who’s the comedian from a different generation you most admire and why?
I love Dave Allen. He could do it all. One-liners, stories, observational. And he never seemed that desperate for the laughs. They seemed like an accidental consequence of the things he was saying.

You’ve said you like to take ideas on their merit, but which ‘woke’ position/idea/belief has the least merit for you, and which has the most?
I think promoting the idea that straight white men are evil is a tough sell in a country where a large chunk of the people are straight, white and male. I think people should always look to progress the idea of equality, but not presume that everyone will think the same way as their campus discussion forum on gender hate crimes.

How have Midlands audiences tended to respond to your politics by comparison with audiences elsewhere?
For whatever reasons, Midlands audiences seem to take themselves the least seriously. Shrewsbury punters also like to have their reference points acknowledged, and laugh at outsiders for not having enough money for that bloody toll bridge.

Geoff Norcott performs at The Glee Club, Birmingham,  Sunday 18 October & Royal Spa Centre, Leamington Spa on Friday 16 April 

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