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Andy Parsons hits the road with “Bafflingly Optimistic,” his latest comedy tour across the UK, starting in February 2024. The show offers a fresh perspective on the madness of modern life, from overpriced ketchup to global pandemics.

Known for his sharp wit on “Mock the Week” and a successful stint on radio and TV, including “Live at the Apollo” and writing for “Spitting Image,” Parsons has a knack for turning the bleak into the outright hilarious. His accolades are impressive: the Time Out Comedy Award, the New Zealand International Comedy Award, and more, marking him as a comedic force. In this interview, Andy speaks about his forthcoming tour, sharing insights into the creative process behind his shows, the challenges of finding optimism in today’s world, and what fans can expect from his performances in 2024.

Your new show is called Bafflingly Optimistic. What are the themes?
There are lots of different strands. It’s partly about parenting and what kids need to understand about the world. The world has slightly gone t*ts up recently, and, obviously, our politics have gone the same way over the last 12 months as well. So it’s marrying that to having an 11-year-old son and seeing the world a bit through their eyes in terms of prospects going forward, whether it’s to do with houses or jobs or being able to work in Europe.

So where is the optimism?
I think there are reasons to be hopeful. It’s not a depressing show; you won’t want that on your night out. It’s full of big laughs. The positive side is that the pandemic is over, and we are statistically more united as a nation than it might seem. And despite what you’ve heard, comics are not being cancelled.
You don’t shy away from the big issues, from police criminality to the gender debate, but you ensure that there are jokes all the way. There’s a hilarious section explaining economics to your son.
If you’re shying away from subjects, then you’re not utilising all of the advantages of free speech that you have. If you’re just going to make decent points about the news, you can do that on a Sunday morning BBC show. Onstage, there needs to be laughter.
If you are talking about news stories, how do you handle the problem of events moving so fast like they currently do?
I think the news that I’m most interested in is the stuff that’s more structural, like what’s happening with the Bank of England, what’s going on with inflation, and tuition fees. Those issues aren’t going to change any time soon. A quick gag at the expense of a BBC presenter is not something that I’ve ever been particularly interested in.

You are very funny, though, about Liz Truss in Baffingly Optimistic, comparing her to a can of beans in the back of the cupboard nobody wants. What is your opinion of politicians in general?
Having interviewed loads of politicians for my podcast, there are a lot of hard-working, community-minded politicians out there. Sadly, a lot of them never get into a position where they can make a difference. Maybe having the mindset to be cutthroat enough to get to the very top is part of the problem. They say that we don’t get the politicians that we need; we get the ones we deserve. I don’t think politicians have gotten worse; there are a lot of good politicians out there. I would just like to see more of them able to influence the decisions.

Photos: Andy Hollingworth
Tickets and tour schedule: https: www.andyparsons.co.uk

Elena Leo is the Arts & Lifestyle Editor of Ikon London Magazine.