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Matt Forde: Dishonourable Member

Thursday, 8 September, 2011

Politics, football and comedy

14:55pm, 25th August, Udderbelly’s Pasture, 4th-28th August

Matt Forde

Having cut his comedic teeth on the radio with the likes of Russell Howard, Jon Richardson and Richard Bacon, as well as having his own  late night slot on talkSPORT, Matt Forde  has returned to the Edinburgh Fringe  Festival to serve a slice of his own mix of stand-up comedy, football and politics.  These are his self-assigned areas of expertise and as the show plays its course, it becomes apparent that not only does he know what he’s talking about, but his passion for these occasionally juxtaposing interests is a pleasure to observe.

Matt Forde’s humour is eloquent but unassuming as he delves into his own personal experience and beliefs with anecdotal wit. He describes his life growing up in Nottingham and his lifelong allegiance to Nottingham Forest and waxes lyrical about his role as a supporter with such enthusiasm that it is hard not to see on stage before the audience the eleven year old mascot walking onto the pitch at City Ground. He beams his way through his tale of Brian Clough, arguably the club’s most prolific and successful manager, as he described Matt Forde as he was gearing up to hit puberty headlong, looking as if he spent his time ‘headbutting a pizza.’ Whether or not  characters such as Brian Clough are familiar to anyone other than Matt Forde, even if they spark a vague memory somewhere in the mind, it seems irrelevant; to hear him tell the story and experience what he experienced through his articulate, brave descriptions is where his performances entertainment value lies.

He wades through his past as a member and associate of the Labour Party, joining when he was fifteen; he paints the image of his fourteen year old self sending off his application four weeks early so he might wake up on his fifteenth birthday a fully fledged member of the party he had idolised since the age of seven. He admits his political ideology wouldn’t reach much further at that young age than hoping Tony Blair might ensure Nottingham Forest win the FA Cup, but soon his audience is coaxed into his experiences working alongside some of Labour’s most recognised politicians. He was there the day Tony Blair resigned. This is useful ammo for any stand-up, and Matt Forde rambles through his experiences of the day, re-renacting Tony Blair’s wry observations and quick-witted responses to audience questions. This isn’t just solid material for a stand-up performance it is also a snippet of our own recent history that we rarely get to hear about candidly from someone who was actually there. It is hard to not be reeled into this narrative, as Matt Forde candidly flicks a beckoning finger into the inner workings of Westminster during his time there. His audience join him for a drink where Michael Portillo seems a little too impressed by Matt’s Tony Blair impression.

Matt Forde pulls the nuances of a spectator sport as he describes Blair’s final hours. Indeed, by his own admission he is probably the only person in the world that watches Prime Minister’s Question Time with a pack of lager. This is where the crux of his stand-up emerges, as he blends the avid and earnest advertising techniques of Sky Sports with the political tussles of the early noughties. He ends in a climactic cacophony of clichéd football noises and the Rocky Theme tune blasting out of the speakers. His hour is up in what seems like minutes, a performer with enough political knowledge and anecdotal to flair to hold his audience in amused rapture.

Performed by Matt Forde

(c) Alexandra Kavanagh 2011

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