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Geoff Norcott: "Talking about my politics felt exciting"

Geoff Norcott recalls cowboy competitions on the Isle of Wight, playing Live at the Apollo and performing standup as a Conservative voter in the latest Comedy Timing

The UK comedy circuit isn't the most comfortable place for a Conservative voter. That's true if you're in the audience – and doubly so if you're actually up on stage. 

This didn't deter Geoff Norcott, however – a rare standup comfortably in revealing his true blue colours. 

"Being honest about my politics got me used to feeling comfortable with not being liked while on stage," notes Norcott.

"And being hissed at for politics made a change from hen dos throwing an inflatable penis at my head." 

Can't argue with that. 

BEST COWBOY COMP

I was eight and we were at a holiday camp in the Isle of Wight. They were doing a ‘Best Cowboy’ competition. All the other boys were wearing Stetsons and holsters and claiming they came from ‘Texas’. When my turn came the holster didn’t fit and the Stetson was down around my eyes. Also, instead of saying I came from ‘Texas’, I said ‘My name’s Geoff and I come from Essex’. All the grown-ups laughed and that was the moment the comedy radioactive spider bit.

RUSSIAN DOUBLE ACT

Somewhat implausibly, I was initially part of a double act called ‘The Boobka Brothers’. We were two Russian dissidents (which could feel very topical now). My partner Neil was so funny, and being on stage while he got big laughs I remember looking around the room thinking what a great place it was to be. Comedy wasn’t for him in the long run, but I stuck with it. And it only took me a mere six years to hear the kind of laughter he was able to elicit on his fifth gig.

Geoff Norcott

DOING WEEKENDS

Now comics have five-year plans and study the art-form to death. Back in the early noughties all most stand ups wanted was to ‘do weekends’. When the Comedy Store and Jongleurs started asking your availability it was the closest we came to a professional qualification. It meant you could do it for a living. I don’t know the equivalent now is, maybe passing 100K followers on TikTok and having a very generous following on OnlyFans. The other great thing about doing weekends was you got drinks tokens and in some cases free chicken and chips. I don’t care what you achieve in this game, for me that was showbiz.

SAYING THE UNSAYABLE

In 2013, I got bored of my safe stand-up subjects so decided to take a risk. My wife said: “well you vote Conservative, that’s weird for a comic - talk about that.” I did 10 minutes on the subject at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and it felt exciting. One couple walked out, claiming “they didn’t come here to be preached at.” I suspect they might have tolerated the preaching if it came from the usual angle. I talk about a lot of different subjects in my tour shows these days but being honest about my politics got me used to feeling comfortable with not being liked while on stage. And being hissed at for politics made a change from hen dos throwing an inflatable penis at my head.

LIVE AT THE APOLLO

It’s a predictable one, but this is the question all your friends and family ask you: “When will you be on that Live at the Apollo?” Then you go on it and they don’t even watch, and you realise they probably just enjoyed winding you up. The biggest different with Live at the Apollo isn’t just the size of the room or TV audience, but how you enter the stage. You have to stand behind that giant screen which goes up as dry ice fills the air. There’s no precedent for that when you’re gigging above the Pig & Testicle in Stroud.

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Geoff is on tour with ‘I Blame The Parents’ until May 29th – ticket details here

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