Andy Zaltzman – 'It was like a horse winning the Grand National by riding on a nine-stone man'
- Brian Donaldson
- 29 March 2017
The popular satirist, sports fan and former support act for Joan Rivers offers an alternative to this crazy world with his Plan Z
Former comedy partner of John Oliver, Andy Zaltzman is renowned as a witty political commentator whose work has amused the nation on live stages as well as through his 'premium-calibre satirical hogwash' podcast, The Bugle. Here, he speculates on what newsreaders did in the 1970s, discusses true sporting miracles and wonders which ghosts will haunt Trump...
Does the world's news seem to be changing at a more rapid speed than it did in, say, the 70s, or do rolling news programmes and social media just make it seem that way?
Both. Everything is faster, angrier and newsier than it used to be. In fact, there is more news in the world than ever before, partly because, in the 1970s, news journalists had to wait for something to actually happen, rather than just read a politician's or celebrity's Twitter feed and write an article detailing exactly what the celebrity has just Twittered. Many 1970s TV news bulletins featured the likes of Richard Baker or Angela Rippon sitting back with their feet on the table, doing a crossword, waiting for a story to break.
Having been born in 1974, I lived in the 1970s, and, unquestionably, the news sources I used then were far less frantic than today's 25-8-366 non-stop volcano of events. A comparison between Camberwick Green and, say, today's CNN, shows how impatient news, and the world that creates it, have become.
How long do you give Trump in the White House? Will we have a President Pence running in 2020?
Trump will not last until 2020 as President. At his current rate of practice, Trump's golf should have improved to the level where he can join the USPGA tour as a solid professional, ranked around 80th-120th in the world. He will surely jettison the presidency at that point. Also, having small hands, Trump is terrified of ghosts. The enraged spectres of the likes of George Washington, Frankie Roosevelt and Abe 'The Hat' Lincoln, must surely be plotting some big-league haunting of Mr Trump, who has spent so much of his presidency provoking his predecessors to spin like horny tumble dryers in their graves.
Technology will enable us to skip a Pence presidency. By 2020, there will be a computerised robo-president, President Democractorax 3.1, which will operate by analysing the opinions and wishes of the American public, and formulating policies accordingly. It will be marginally less terrifying than Trump.
Just in case we ever have to say it out loud, should Plan Z be pronounced 'Plan zed' or 'Plan zee'?
If you are on the eastern side of the Atlantic, it should be pronounced 'zed'. If, however, you are on the western side of the Atlantic, it should also be pronounced 'zed'.
If Scotland does vote independent in 2018/19, where do you see the next similar divide happening in the world?
Catalonia might use the opportunity to join the UK in a swap deal, with Scotland going the other way and hooking up with Spain. I can also see New Zealand leaving the Southern Hemisphere. It has earned a crack at seeing what it can do on this side of the Equator, although it could have a negative effect on the skill levels of their rugby players.
What's your all-time favourite Bugle moment?
Tough to choose. I've loved doing The Bugle from start to temporary finish to restart to now. If I had to narrow it down to one specific thing, I'd probably go for The Final Conscious Thoughts of Osama Bin Laden (in issue 193, I think).
Is there a rising star in the world of political comedy that you think we should look out for?
I'm a bit out of the loop as I don't do much club stand-up these days, so don't see much of the newer acts. I was impressed by Rahul Kohli in Edinburgh last year when he did a spot at my Political Animal gig.
What was the more unlikely sporting event: Leicester's league win or Ireland beating England at the cricket?
Leicester, unquestionably. I grew up in the 1980s and swiftly learned that, to the two traditional life-inevitabilities of death and taxes, a third could be added: that all nations that play cricket will, inevitably, at some point, beat England. Leicester winning the Premier League, on the other hand, was exactly the kind of nonsense the Premier League had been specifically geared up to prevent happening. It was like a horse winning the Grand National wearing a shiny shirt, holding a whip, and riding on a nine-stone man.
Andy Zaltzman: Plan Z is on tour from Fri 5–Fri 19 May; The Bugle is at thebuglepodcast.com.