Review: Justin Moorhouse: Northern Joker

Gag-heavy show that mixes the personal and political

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Justin Moorhouse: Northern Joker. Image: Paul Wolfgang Webster
Published 11 Aug 2018

If good old-fashioned joke-telling is your thing, then Justin Moorhouse is your man, and Northern Joker has a very high gag rate. The title is an ironic nod to the unPC club comedians of old, because here he is telling us about being a teetotal vegan. He talks about being a dad to a teenage girl, with all that that entails: “hormones, emotions and opinions”. He tries to be a good father but it’s her keenness to talk about feelings that gets him, because when he was a lad it was very different: “My dad didn’t have emotions. He had an allotment.”

Moorhouse swerves between the serious stuff and silliness in the space of a sentence, weaving in some strong political material about Donald Trump, Russian interference in the West, the Scottish independence referendum and Brexit. But there are much bigger problems to address, he tells us: ketchup in the fridge or not? And why, he wonders, do people who move away from the North of England spend the rest of their lives obsessed by gravy? Then he mentions the Manchester Arena attack and, while he pays due homage to those murdered and the effect it had on his beloved home town, he subtly references the grief industry elsewhere. It’s a tricky subject, but one that Moorhouse carries off. And just when you think the hour is taking a dark turn, he ends on a terrific takedown of his level of fame, a nicely judged undercutting of his own celebrity.