Why I Stand Up For Labour


By - Wednesday 15th May, 2013

Too many people are sitting at home screaming at the news or getting het up on Twitter. Stand Up For Labour gives people a chance to have a laugh and see for themselves that they are not alone in opposition to the government


Photo by Phil Bourne

In 2010 I was just another comedian performing at all the worst comedy venues in London, working my way from 10 minutes to 20 minutes of material. At the same time, a General Election was about to take place, and, in a moment of clarity, I realised that what I was doing was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I knew that the Conservatives were about to launch an attack on the welfare state and make the poor pay for what the bankers had done.

I decided to stop performing stand-up comedy and joined the Labour Party and started to attend meetings. I soon found that these could be quite tedious and full of procedure and, when someone suggested that a fundraiser was necessary, I thought I would go back to my old routine and put on a comedy night.

The first Stand Up For Labour I promoted included Arthur Smith, but the main attraction was Ken Livingstone. People were interested in hearing what he had to say but also warmed to the jokes from the comedians. It made a lot of money for the Labour Party and people suggested I put on more comedy nights. I decided to offer my services as a promoter to other Labour Party constituencies.

Since then I’ve been as far west as Bath, as far north as Rotherham, and to Tory hotspots like Eastbourne (where Denis Healey agreed to read poetry).

Joe Wells and Ken Livingstone

Last weekend we went out to the most easterly town in the country, Lowestoft. It took five hours for the comedians to get there and we didn’t get home until about 3:30 in the morning. We only get paid expenses, but the response we got from the audience was reward enough. I’ve never heard so much laughter from a comedy audience and it was as though people were being given a licence to laugh at the ridiculous nonsense put forward by the government.

Now Stand Up For Labour is coming to Croydon’s Ruskin House – this Friday (17th May). It’s going to be great to have comedians like Joe Wells and Ava Vidal, along with great improv comedy from two Comedy Store Players. We are going to have great fun and Ken Livingstone always has something interesting to say about what’s going on. He appeared at the first Stand Up For Labour event in Chiswick last year and said: ‘I loved it. It was a great evening and such a fun change from the usual fundraising.’

‘I’m looking forward to seeing Joe Wells again’, said Ken, ‘who was hilarious in the last event.’ Joe Wells is regarded as one of the stars of the future in comedy and, unlike most acts, he does not avoid taking a meaningful stance on political issues. His material tackles things like women’s rights, the EDL, and arming the Dalai Lama. ‘We have a nasty right wing government relying on increasingly absurd justifications for their attacks on the poor’, Joe said. ‘The one upside of this is that my material is writing itself.’

Stand Up For Labour is on Friday 17th May at Ruskin House on Coombe Road. Tickets for the event cost £12/£9 (concessions) and are available online here

Crispin Flintoff

Crispin Flintoff

Crispin is a former Hackney Empire New Acts of the Year Runner Up and the third cousin of cricketer Andrew Flintoff. Crispin became a member of the Labour Party following the death of Michael Foot and soon got involved in campaigning. He set up Stand up for Labour last summer and has since put on events in Bath, Northampton, Rotherham, Eastbourne, Ipswich, Lowestoft, Ilford, Bethnal Green, Ealing and Chiswick.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/liz.sheppardjones Liz Sheppard-Jones

    This definitely comes in the heart-in-the-right place category, but Miliband, Balls and Harman have no more idea how to tackle our desperate economic difficulties than Gideon and Dave. So for me, no relief in sight for boiling anger at the destruction of our post-war social contract by those who never understood its worth.

    Still, better laughing than seething.