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A microphone on the stage| AccountingWEB| Jeremy Hunt: The stand up who falls down
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Jeremy Hunt: The stand-up who falls over

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British Theatre Guide's Philip Fisher swaps the West End for Westminster and reviews Jeremy Hunt’s latest Spring Budget production.

6th Mar 2024
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Stand-up comedians come in all shapes and sizes. My taste can be pretty eclectic, everything from the brash, sometimes offensive style of Reginald D. Hunter to the quiet quirkiness of Mark Watson in his early days.

I heard great things about this newcomer, Jeremy someone or other.

He certainly has the best PR team in the business. Which other comic could get a gig on the Laura Kuenssberg show the weekend before their big show?

The House of Commons theatre

The venue was also extraordinary. Rather than a cramped room behind smelly pub toilets, our Jeremy’s team had booked him a 600 seat Central London venue and, even allowing for the eccentric 12.30 starting time, it was standing room only.

To be fair, the baying lunchtime punters behaved so badly that they might have knocked back as many bevies as even the rowdiest late-night crowd, heckling for England.

Reg or Mark might appear to be riffing but they hone their material for months to achieve hilarious perfection.

Jeremy’s method is to wing it with far too little fully developed and nothing worthy of repetition to a half-filled cupboard, let alone a critical public audience of millions. Even his few rehearsed lines were either repetitions of leaks or hackneyed and long past their sell by dates when he first used them last year.

Jokes fell flat

To describe his hour-long set as vacuous is almost paying it a compliment. The best comparator for his sneering delivery might be Les Dawson, although at least he didn’t laugh at his own jokes.

This was also the strongest boost to the recently-announced opposition policy of restricting Budgets to one a year. Frankly, if Jeremy is still in place after the next election, none a year might be even better.

In advance, fitting current practice, Jeremy and his pals leaked dozens of prospective crowd-pleasers, some of them literally laughable but others that, carried through, might have made a difference to the people, ie, the electorate. Instead, he was shamefacedly reduced borrowing gags from a lady sitting opposite.

For some reason, one of his best lines got few laughs. After all, this is the man who plundered into a recession while constantly boasting about achieving growth.

There was one further joke that deserved a better response than it got, perhaps because it will rebound on poor Jeremy. It can briefly be summarised as 2+2 = 0.

Twice knocking down NIC by 2% within four months without anybody noticing is quite an achievement, particularly when a single 4% reduction, in either the autumn or spring, would have made headlines and put genuine smiles on many faces.

Perhaps our man’s biggest problem was that, not all that long ago on the same stage, a chap called Crazy Kwasi delivered what, in retrospect, was by far the funniest set that anyone can remember (unless they happen to be paying a mortgage or have maxed out the credit card). Indeed, it was so outrageous that he hit the headlines around the world and caused laughs everywhere from the Kremlin to the Presidential Palace in Nanjing.

On this occasion, the jokes never came, but then neither did concrete policies. Instead, there was a tediously predictable stream of consciousness babble and bluster inventing an imaginary world where your policies are working, no growth equals growth and ever-harsher austerity is regarded as a hilarious virtue.

Making space for a new act?

Jeremy also struggled to take half the audience along when claiming credit for high points that were entirely outside his control such as slowing inflation.

Surely when he was a little boy, Jeremy’s parents must have regularly uttered the immortal lines “if you have nothing to say, don’t open your mouth”. If so, he didn’t listen.

My spies tell me that promoters have booked the venue again for November but are already spreading rumours that, in the interests of diversity, they will replace Jeremy with a wily, young comedienne, whose edgy repertoire might just be a breath of fresh air.

In addition to writing a column for AccountingWEB, Philip Fisher is London Editor of www.britishtheatreguide.info and has reviewed and interviewed top comedians including Reginald D Hunter and Mark Watson but not, to date anyway, Jeremy Hunt.

 

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By FactChecker
06th Mar 2024 20:16

".. not all that long ago on the same stage, a chap called Crazy Kwasi delivered what, in retrospect, was by far the funniest set that anyone can remember .."
- which might be an indication that we're not interested in comedic timing or stage presence ... it may seem strange, but what catches our attention are the changes made (whether small but significant to a SIG or affecting the majority of us and our clients).

Keep the theatrics for the stage.

Thanks (3)