Lembit Opik, Backstage Comedy Club, London
Friday 04 June 2010
There was a kind of bittersweet irony that, on the day of the first Prime Minister's Question Time of the coalition government, the former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik was performing an open-spot stand-up gig in a tiny basement comedy club. Opik, arguably, has performed comedy in a niche environment on both sides of the election.
Sporting a suit and a Liberal Democrat rosette, as to canvass for our laughter, Opik seemed to acknowledge his career intentions when he said early in to his 15-minute set: "Thanks to 13,976 Tory voters for kick-starting a career I didn't even know I wanted" and also joked that tonight was proof to those who say that he is a self-seeking publicist that they are wrong.
Around third of his act consisted of similar introductory remarks, also thanking his comedy agent (club host Robert Meakin, who also writes for this newspaper) who apparently texted him after the general election with the message "based on the result your best bet is stand-up comedy."
More a self-referential discourse than a club set, and therefore an act that invited few heckles, anyone hoping for some political knockabout of the kind Opik has been subjected on during Have I Got News for You would be a disappointed. Among the few insights into one of our new governing parties there was a weak gag about Nick Clegg ignoring him as the two men moved in and out of power, although Opik recovered this with a line about Clegg starting his new career "10 feet tall" while Opik started his "six feet under in the equivalent of the comedy coffin".
Ultimately, the evening was a moderately amusing jolly and much less of a disaster than many a debut open spot. If the former politician is serious about stand up he definitely has the tenacity and fearlessness that is required if not yet the material or the right stylistic approach.
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