sun 05/12/2021

Marcus Brigstocke, Vaudeville Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

Marcus Brigstocke, Vaudeville Theatre

Marcus Brigstocke, Vaudeville Theatre

Unashamedly intellectual comic who loves a good rant

Marcus Brigstocke, like God, is everywhere. No, strike that - the star of (and I may be missing a few here) Argumental, The Now Show, I’ve Never Seen Star Wars, Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off and The Late Edition is currently performing God Collar, a show about rational atheism, so let’s drop the deity assumption. Whether God exists depends on your personal faith choices, but we know Brigstocke absolutely does exist because at any given time he is appearing on television and radio, sometimes on several channels at once.
Not that I mind his ubiquity, as Brigstocke is a very bright man who clearly enjoys a good debate on big subjects and dares to engage his brain and ours in pursuit of comedy. He even has three hefty books on stage at the Vaudeville Theatre in London - Richard Dawkins’ The God Delusion, Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great and the Bible - to illustrate his thesis, that religion is bunk.

He doesn’t give atheists an easy ride, though; just as Brigstocke despises religious fanatics who apparently serve the same god but fall out over the silliest things, he also gives the absolutist Dawkins a thorough going-over for being insufferably smug. And to atheists who think they’re superior to religionists, he says: “You’re not cleverer than anyone else, so pack it in.” He lays into the misogyny at the heart of Christianity, Judaism and Islam. and dares - as a white, liberal secularist - to enter the burqa debate. Bags are for things, not people, he says, and those Muslims who think otherwise should “grow the fuck up”.

Brigstocke’s rants - I do love a good rant - are the best parts of the show. Not all are religion-based; this is a man who can be brought to frothing fury by iPhone users, the Daily Mail and even a seemingly harmless game of snakes and ladders with his daughter.

After the interval, the material is much less acutely argued and veers dangerously towards the sentimental. I don’t doubt that Brigstocke loves his wife, his young children, his parents and his grandparents, but there’s a little too much on how wunnerful they all are, and don’t kids say the darnedest things. But he also talks honestly about how the death of a close friend two years ago started the crisis of non-faith - the God-shaped hole in his life - that prompted this show, and how our love for one another suggests the possibility that we have souls. To wit, an indefinable part of humans that isn’t physical, mental or even spiritual, just the quintessence of humanity. I’m inclined to agree with the comic on this point, but I could do with less description of life chez Brigstocke and rather more, well you know, scientific fact, or even proposition, to support his argument.

If much of the above suggests this is a show short on laughs, it’s not. Yes, it sometimes feels more like a lecture than a comedy gig, but it’s smart and witty with plenty of well crafted gags. And even among the unashamedly intellectual jousting, Brigstocke tells the funniest fart joke I have ever heard, for which let us give thanks and praise.

At the Vaudeville Theatre until 11 February. Book tickets here

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