Every year during the Comedy Festival, I try and see at least one comedian I haven’t seen before. This year it was the UK’s Andy Zaltzman. Looking at his publicity pic, I wrongly assumed he was American, probably because he had a shock of thick (yet receding) curly hair. He looked a little bit like a cross between a mad professor and Art Garfunkel. That idea quickly evaporated as a polished English accent emerged. His voice sounded very similar to John Oliver and that is probably not surprising as he has worked with Oliver for many years.
The opening routine was amusing but seemed a tad clumsy. He played a game show contestant while a pre-recorded voice asked him existential questions about current issues. They kept with the theme of the show which was asking the right questions but getting the wrong answers.
Once this set was done he launched into true stand-up and this is where Zaltzman shone. Over the next hour, with the help of the occasional prop and sound effects on his computer, he eviscerated Trump, lampooned Brexit and British culture and even had a gentle go at New Zealand.
His whole routine zigzagged from bursts of intense energy to almost manic monologues, and at times it seemed as though he had become sidetracked and forgotten where he was up to. But it didn’t really matter as he made some genuinely sharp and hilarious comments on the state of the world.
Zaltzman is at his best when he is passionately ranting and swearing about human stupidity. Ironically his funniest moment was ripping into his own son during an imaginary conversation about a children’s story.
Unfortunately, Zaltsman only had two nights in New Zealand, but if you want to watch him, check out his online podcast The Bugle.