And finally, what was meant to be the third leg of a comic tripod, but in fact turned out to the the second leg of a thing with only two legs, and the slightly more stressful one at that. But as it happens the journey up to that Newcastle was relatively stress-free. The Stand is a tidy venue on High Bridge, where I used to buy far too much music back in the 90s, when I hung around Newcastle possibly more than was good for me.
I’ve seen Andy Zaltzman a couple of times, but never had the pleasure of a live Bugle (I would have jumped at the chance in Edinburgh last year, but that didn’t quite fall right, and I didn’t make it up there this summer). The only slight (and I do mean slight) disappointment is that it’s Alice Fraser with Andy tonight and not Nish Kumar. It’s not a disappointment at all really because Alice Fraser is very, very funny, as numerous Bugles passim illustrate so very clearly.
If you’re at all familiar with The Bugle, you’ll know what’s coming: basically, a look at the week’s news through the deeply disturbed prism of the mind of Zaltzman, self-styled “lapsed (and world’s worst) Jew”, and purveyor of industrial grade bovine exflagrution. And puns. Lots. Of. Puns.
Tonight is exactly as you’d expect, with all the usual sections, hearty calls of “Fuck you, Chris!” and the time-honoured chorus of approval for the section that will end up, “In the bin”. The principal story is of course, once again, like every other fucking week in existence now, Brexit, and the peregrinations of “acting Prime Minister”, Boris Johnson. But we also get stories of bus-riding cats and the calling out of arse-clechingly twee “hamster parents”. Andy even sneaks in a couple of low grade puns, just to keep the end up.
The room is full, which seems to (mock) surprise our hosts, especially Andy, who, unlike Alice, has played to less enthusiastic audiences here. It’s a great venue for a comedy club. Big enough to pack them in, but intimate enough to get up close.
There’s a short interval, and we return to discussion of the Cheeto Hitler himself, Donald Trump, and the beginnings of what will ultimately prove to be a pointless impeachment process.
The hallmark of these shows is the verbal, so there are lots of throwaway gags and one-liners, lots of tortured metaphors, incursions into the mechanics and origins of local dialect, utter filth in Latin (courtesy of Cattalus…maybe), and a pilot of audio comic strips where the likes of Hagar The Horrible get the Bugle treatment. All this and some more topical news-baseed comedy too, not to mention Fraser delivering a couple of beautfully withering would-be heckler put downs. Oh yes, and lots of cricket references. Lots of them. I mean, really lots of them.
There’s a short Q&A, but as one might expect from the ever-prolix Zaltor, it’s overrunning, so there’s no time for puns, according to producer Chris. But no! Fuck you, Chris! There’s always time for puns. And Zaltzman drags a few reliably tortuous and reliably awful Premier League team puns into the mix to finish proceedings.
But it’s another little box ticked: I’ve wanted to watch a live Bugle, and now I’m glad I did.
And, as a final aside, every time Alice Fraser does that little curtsey after a zinger, my heart melts a little more, but please, don’t tell her that.