Just over a year ago, the suffix Br- was first added to the word exit and the world imploded. Since then, those in and out of the EU group hug are still processing their feelings about the whole shemozzle – looking inward and asking questions like “what does this really mean for the future?”, “does it really affect me?” and “do I really care?”
Enter Brexit Stage Left, a novel concept from SBS VICELAND that sends four comedians on a four-country tour of Western Europe to search for answers to the above questions, celebrate the EU’s cultural diversity and ogle some postcard-worthy scenery. All while performing a bit of fantastic stand-up.
Meet the comedians
Brexit Stage Left is the brainchild of Jamali Maddix, the award-winning funnyman with a keen interest in what makes contrasting cultures tick. You might remember Maddix from SBS VICELAND’s Hate Thy Neighbour, where he took that curiosity into interviews with members of extremist groups. So it’s unsurprising he sought to pick the brains of those still within the EU.
Joining Maddix in Copenhagen is Alfie Brown, an emerging comedian with an acid tongue and a lot on his mind. A proud and occasionally paranoid father, Brown takes to the touristic portion of the tour, researching a potential relocation. Whether he is seriously considering his own Brexodus or just riffing on the show’s theme remains to be seen.
In The Netherlands, Maddix accompanies Scottish comic Fern Brady on her virgin visit to Amsterdam. Brady’s star has risen steadily since the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe, and her unique shift into stand-up came after starting out as a comedy reviewer. She’s since contributed commentary to The Guardian. In a subsequent episode, Brady and Brown travel to Berlin.
Finally, Irish native Sean McLoughlin is joined by Brady in Dublin. McLoughlin’s brazen comedic voice has garnered lavish praise from all over the UK, nabbing him opening spots for the likes of Ricky Gervais and Katherine Ryan. At 29 years of age, the young man’s honest outlook is already being compared to Louis CK.
When comedians tease their own show…
The featured foursome spoke to inews.co.uk to give us a sense of what to expect and the answers were fittingly hilarious. When McLoughlin was probed on what he’d miss about the EU, he claimed to be a “major importer/exporter of farming equipment” and fretted over a tariff-laden future. Asked which country cared the least about the Brits leaving the EU, Brown responded that to the Irish, “we’re pricks. We’ve always been pricks. We’ll always be pricks.”
Brady was probed over what worries her the most about the whole situation and she joked of plans to move “to America while the rest of you rot here” for the sole purpose of becoming the “sexy female Craig Ferguson”. Brown, however, took that same question seriously and his worry is worth quoting in full:
“The explosion of small-minded nationalism and how Brexit is too often a vehicle for xenophobia. The economic kamikaze mission of shunning vital trade deals and limiting immigration. And possibly other countries following our lead, the collapse of the EU altogether, more countries pursuing isolationism, the fall of Nato and the illegal annexation of the Baltic states by Russia.”
All politics aside, the stand-up comedy is primo
Each episode devotes a decent chunk of its running time to actual performed stand-up, and each comic has a distinct voice and take on the world, which gives a fresh flavour to each episode. And while Brexit material was always going to pop up, it only makes up a part of their acts.
This is a smart move. Watching a European audience crack up at British comedians speaks more to the connection between diverse cultures than more overt discussions of Brexit ever could and underlines the universal spirit no political manoeuvre can take away.
Watch Brexit Stage Left on Thursday 3 August at 8:30pm on SBS VICELAND.