Fin Taylor: Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey (4 stars) | Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows (4 stars) | Andy Zaltzman: Satirist For Hire (4 stars)

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Fin Taylor
Published 16 Aug 2017

At the top of Lefty Tighty Righty Loosey (4 stars) Taylor introduces himself by declaring that he's been described by broadsheets as "provocative," but what they actually mean is "offensive but privately educated". It's true he's a gleeful trouble maker, but in amongst the mischief-making there's a lot of common sense in his material.

The show's leaping-off point is the week from hell he had back in March, both personally and politically. After a nightmare flight from Australia, his relationship broke down, terrorism broke out, he pissed blood and was rude to his former mum-in-law. It's a structure that allows him to keep a tight rein on a variety of topics, all filtered through his questioning stance. He claims to have left "The Left" behind at the beginning of the year. That's not to say he's started marching about wearing a pillowcase at a jaunty angle on his head, but more that he's had enough of elements of the Left's posturing, claiming that most viewpoints are motivated by white guilt rather than genuine compassion.

He points out hypocricy, such as how some liberals praise multi-culturalism while clinging desperately to their white, middle class enclaves and fetishising their artisan shops. Of course there are outright tongue-in-cheek, shit-stirring comments, tempered by an ironic high five with a hapless member of the front row.

High fives aside, it helps that Taylor's skill at penmanship is indubitable, there some brilliant routines in here such as the "pincer movement" of a medical examination. Overall it's a call to form your opinions with research and logic rather than blindly picking a side and following it regardless. A very funny call that is.

There's plenty in Matt Tedford's latest 'Margaret Thatcher' Fringe offering to send the old bat swivelling in her plot: Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows (4 stars) is high camp, there's socialist theory and people having fun. This year she's here with her game show, having decided that in her undead state she'd make a good Saturday night TV host. Be warned: if you sit down the front, you'll probably be plucked to represent either the Strivers or the Skivers teams as we all play for our benefits. Let's hope there aren't any Tory ministers in. It might give them ideas.

Tedford has produced a great Thatcher parody. The voice, poise and handbag are spot on. Unsurprisingly Tedford's monster has become a cult hit now and this is his fourth year at the Fringe performing as the divisive old crone. She's ably supported by her dancers Strong (Paul Heath) and Stable (Ed Yelland), in shorts tighter than the Tory welfare budget, who contribute much to the show.

As well as the song and dance numbers there are supporting roles for them to fulfil as Margaret is visited by political leaders and figures, and showbiz ghosts. What consequently emerges from the glitter is a contrasting sharp political satire, with appearances from Nigel Farage, Nicola Sturgeon and Owen Jones, and we all worship at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn. Left and Right, Brexit and Scottish independence are all covered and dissected – and thankfully all put right. If only it were that simple.

Here for the final two weeks of the Fringe with the second run (the previous one was in 2015) of his Satirist For Hire (4 stars) show is perennial political piss-taker Andy Zaltzman. As the show thrives on the audience suggesting topics for him to satirise—though you probably worked that one out from the title—anything could happen. This first show of the run kicks off in that unexpected vein when, amusingly, the mic's not in the mic stand. It's a lovely bumbling moment to begin with, getting Zaltzman his first big laugh and sets the tone well.

Though there will inevitably be riffs that don't quite work, in Zaltzman's skilled hands the vast majority do as he weaves gags from random suggestions. On this occasion topics under discussion are Jeremy Hunt's bathroom, Diane Abbott's maths and Welsh nationalism. It allows you to get a great sense of the process, too.

There's a lot of good natured chumminess in the room as most here are already aware of Zaltzman's work from his projects with John Oliver (now of Trump baiting fame on HBO's Last Week Tonight) on Political Animal, as well as The Bugle podcast and numerous solo Fringe shows. What he'll be talking about at the following gigs is unknown, as that's all down to you.