Night Of The Living Tories

Sun 3rd – Sat 23rd August 2014


Jessica Piette

at 10:24 on 5th Aug 2014



Joe Wells’ show was exactly what it said on the poster. For sixty minutes he brought to life the dark past (and present) of the Tory party with humour; including many hilarious anecdotes on the ghoulish David Cameron, the child-eating Thatcher, and some more extreme parties such as the EDL and UKIP. It was an entertaining watch for the left-leaning individual - or even the politically apathetic.

Wells’ delivery style was charming and flowed well, though he was at times uncompromising. Wells has been criticized for his fiery rhetoric - at a few points he jokingly repeated ‘I have a dream’ – which caused one critic to feel as if he was attempting to convert them to ‘extremist communism’. Certain parts started to feel like the Communist Manifesto which certainly detracted from the overall humorous tone of his act.

Wells is a staunch Socialist, and his humour is laced with an anger which is sometimes uncomfortable, such as his declared hatred of ‘rich people’. Although his audience mostly compromised of what he called ‘open-minded, lefty Fringers’, gags such as this one fell rather flat. Undoubtedly the content was amusing, but the way in which he criticized people with money ultimately limited his target audience, which perhaps wasn’t such a good move given that he was performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Nevertheless he managed to get some great laughs from the crowd, by focusing with biting sarcasm upon the Tory party’s homophobic views, and faithfully portraying numb-skulled UKIP supporters in a way that had us in fits of giggles.

Overall the piece was thought-provoking and interesting, and not quite what I expected, playing out as more of a serious social commentary rather than merely straight forward stand-up. Though I was not in stitches, I found myself hanging on to his every word, and some of the jokes really stood out for their originality and flawless delivery. I would sincerely recommend this to anyone who is interested in or knowledgeable about politics in the UK, or hungry to learn more. Unless, that is, you’ve got a strong aversion to Marxism, or are harbouring some real issues about being middle class.


Serena Gosling

at 11:30 on 5th Aug 2014



Joe Well’s ‘Night of the Living Tories’ promises a satirical look at the history of the party, with particular reference to Gove. At the start of the set it was clear that the stand-up was nervous, rushing through at top speed and fumbling his words. However, once in the swing of things he managed to address mature themes in an incredibly accessible way.

One of the telling signs of bad stand-up is that it never ends, however his set went by fluidly and engaged the audience well. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say he had the audience in stitches all the way through, many of his punchlines tended to elicit a good chuckle from the majority.

In terms of the political content, I found it to be lacking somewhat in more recent political events, such as the failure to discuss Michael Gove, as promised in various Fringe programmes. As well as failing to address present problems, his arguments for his distaste for the Tory Party were fairly weak, ultimately saying that members at the top of the party were to blame for their failings. However, he undermined himself by claiming that the Labour Party was led by the incompetency of top man Miliband but praising the power of the lesser members who made the party great. I felt he straw-manned, picking on the weaker side of the Tory Party’s arguments to undermine rather than their more crucial cock-ups. For example, the topical education problems, which are loaded with good satirical content from Churchill to Morgan.

Despite these weaknesses, his passion for what he was arguing shone through. Indeed, I would say that if you go expecting a stand-up you may be disappointed. However, the message he offers, whilst under-developed in places, is easily understood by the average lay-person. So, if you’re looking for a quick and easy digest of past Tory screw-ups, with little technical detail then this is the perfect show for you. However, if you are better informed politically then it would probably do to give this a miss.

All in all, his set was an enjoyable fringe show and definitely one of the better free shows. You don’t have to hate the Tory Party to enjoy this show, but it would definitely help! ​


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