If there’s one thing Geoff Norcott can’t stand, it’s being told what to do.

A star of Live at the Apollo, Mock the Week and, The Mash Report, Geoff is political – but he directs his frustration at all parties and anyone who he feels his bossing him around – whether Eurocrats, ministers or cultural icons.

Winner of Best Comedy at this year’s BBC Radio & Music Awards, Geoff is on the road with his show Taking Liberties, and tomorrow comes to Didcot for a set at The Cornerstone.

“I’ve realised that – above party politics and even Brexit – people have an intense dislike of being told what to do,” he says.

“Remember that feeling of when your mate’s mum would tell you off? I get that every single time someone tries to interfere in my life.”

And what, in particular, does he hate being told to do?

“I think the private things are the worst,” he says. “What we eat and the language we use. These are intimate things that an increasing amount of do-gooders feel at liberty to instruct us on. They need to get to grips with the fact that sometimes humans want to do bad stuff. And salt is great. If it was socially acceptable to drink soy sauce in public I would.”

He admits it’s a bad time to feel this way. With rising ‘Nanny State’ legislation and ever greater controls on food, lifestyle and language choices, ‘Taking Liberties’ is both a statement on what Geoff fears is happening and his intent to playfully push the envelope.

Banbury Cake:

You may also recognise Geoff from his appearances on Question Time or from putting the cat among the pigeons on This Week, Daily Politics and Politics Live.

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His credits also include Comedy Bigmouths, The Wright Stuff, Jeremy Vine and Edinburgh Nights and he is a regular on BBC Radio with appearances on The Now Show, Loose Ends, Breaking the News and the Today programme and on his own Right Leaning But Well Meaning show.

With little time for the easily-offended, he is a strong advocate of free speech in comedy, saying: “The problem with comedy is when these furores erupt, people are often reading the jokes in print. One-liners aside, stand-up is not meant to be consumed this way. When people read they apply their own levels of anger and indignation.

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“A certain section of the public have become incredibly sensitive. I got pulled up for joking about my dad’s disability. I had to grow up with a dad with a dodgy looking Captain Hook prosthetic. No-one is gonna tell me I can’t make light of that.”

As a writer, Geoff has also contributed to Have I Got News For You, Live At The Apollo, Frankie Boyle’s New World Order, The Sarah Millican Television Programme, The Stand Up Show with Katherine Ryan, Roast Battle, Judge Romesh, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Alan Carr’s Happy Hour and Stand up for the Week. He explored the class system in his BBC 2 documentary How the Middle Class Ruined Britain.

So how did that come about: “The BBC came to me and said ‘It seems like you have a big chip on your shoulder’. I said I did, though my mine was a proper chip and theirs was probably triple-cooked or something.

“They asked if I’d like to explore my hunch that large sections of the middle-class are engaged in sophisticated chicanery. I did, so we made the show.

“I won’t lie, my life is better economically now than it was growing up. But maybe that’s what drives it: self-loathing because I have known the taste of brioche.

So is there anything we should be told to do? “Don’t eat avocados!” he laughs. “Not only are they a hideous symbol of the middle-classes they’re also gross. How are they ‘fruit’? Nothing with a texture so meaty and oily should be called a fruit. Just stop showing off and eat a pear.”

Interestingly, he also received an operational services medal for his five tours of forward positions during the Afghanistan conflict. So Didcot should be a doddle.

“The last tour show I did in Didcot was full,” he recalls. “I thought it meant I had a following in Didcot. However one young member of the bar staff set me straight: ‘It’s the same crowd for every tour show. There’s nothing else to do in Didcot.’ Cheers mate, it’s important to stay grounded!”

See him

  • Geoff Norcott Cornerstone, Didcot
  • Tomorrow (Friday)
  • cornerstone-arts.org