While luminaries such as Dustin Hoffman have graced the upstairs restaurant of Cafe Koha, the basement, where the Backstage Comedy Club is housed, is becoming synonymous with hosting political comedy freakshows.
In June, ex-Lib Dem MP Lembit Opik, fresh from losing one of the party's safest seats, performed a rather self-aware speech-cum-stand-up set there – and tonight it's the turn of the more naturally witty Labour MP for Ealing North, Stephen Pound.
Pound, who was present for Opik's gig and enjoys the favour returned tonight, opened his account by assuring us that he was only in for a penny, that this was the first, only, and last time he would "sink to such appalling depths". Though I recall he has performed at a charity night before, he's clearly being more honest than Opik was about his intentions.
Sartorially correct in a suit and tie, the opposition MP, who resembles the "evil" twin of Vince Cable, took the Pope's visit as his first target. A Catholic, Pound echoes a popular line doing the rounds about the Popemobile: "Nothing says 'I have faith in God' like four inches of bulletproof glass."
Pained by the economic downturn, Pound says he's taken to shopping in Lidl, who sell Korean meatballs that are "the dogs bollocks" and to parking in disabled spots, claiming, profanely, that his disability is Tourette's. This traditional stock fare would have gone down well in the working men's clubs of old, so perhaps Pound is the man to reconnect his party with its roots.
Pound draws on his own experience for material only in the sense of scene-setting. Among various capers related to trips to the former USSR, Pound describes how he was offered an AK47 in Ukraine as a souvenir and is only persuaded to try and get it through customs to use against the French, after umming and ahhing about using against the Americans.
When canvassing for laughs, and not votes, notions like entente cordiale and the special relationship are not politic. Moreover, like many a policy document, the content of Pound's act may be largely recycled – but the delivery of the message is at least professional.Reuse content