Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Voters Gave Him the Boot. Now a Talking Shoe Kills offLembit's Comedy Act; REVIEW

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Voters Gave Him the Boot. Now a Talking Shoe Kills offLembit's Comedy Act; REVIEW

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID SEXTON

LEMBIT OPIK Backstage Comedy Club *

NOT content with being a complete joke, Lembit Opik now wants to make them too.

Having been booted out by his exasperated constituents, the former MP launched his new career as a stand-up comedian last night at the Backstage Comedy Club, a tiny cellar venue off Charing Cross Road.

Thus he joins the great tradition of those who have refused to go quietly when dismissed, like the Rector of Stiffkey who, after being defrocked, performed in amusement parks and was mauled to death in Skegness while posing as a modern Daniel in the lion's den.

In this den, the audience was packed with vocal supporters, including the old Labour bruiser Stephen Pound MP and the largeish lingerie model Katie Green, with whom Opik enjoys a mutually beneficial publicity relationship. But it was his misfortune to follow two brilliantly comic acts, relative novice Josh Widdicombe and Nina Conti, the funniest ventriloquist in the land.

Opik, boringly dressed in a suit with a Lib-Dem rosette, turned out to have only his own story to tell. He was there, he said, because 13,900 voters in Montgomeryshire had kick-started a career he didn't know he wanted.

Eight minutes after he'd lost his safe seat, his agent had texted him that his best bet now was stand-up comedy. "That wasn't really funny for me."

He was only being paid just over [pounds sterling]100 for the evening, so with taxes and travel, "to perform for you tonight is actually costing me [pounds sterling]37." We shouldn't go to the Burger King in Leicester Square later, because there's "a man who works there who looks exactly like me".

Were there any Liberal Democrats in the audience? Evidently not. Yes, he had seen Nick Clegg since the election "but he didn't appear to see me -- he was distracted by a spider, or nothing at all, in the corner of the small lift".

He then worked in the obligatory reference to his former squeeze by saying he was launching his comedy career six feet under, "in the comedy equivalent of an overcrowded coffin", and so was somehow like Dracula -- "and I know quite a lot about Transylvanians -- I'm not going to go into it, Katie, that would be far too cheeky. …

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