Rory Bremner tells Roz Laws that he struggles to tell the election hopefuls apart.
Rory Bremner is in two minds about the forthcoming General Election.
On the one hand, he’s genuinely excited about a political battle getting under way, so much so that he’s going on tour for the first time in five years.
But he also fears that the new breed of MPs who will come to the fore will not help his career as a satirical comedian and impressionist.
Will anyone know who he is if he launches into an impersonation of George Osbourne? It doesn’t quite have the comedy potential of George Bush.
These are some of the older characters who will get their last outing in Rory’s new show, the Election Battlebus Tour, which stops off at Warwick Arts Centre next week.
“It will be a farewell, Sinatra tour for the likes of Tony Blair and Michael Howard,” says the 48-year-old father-of-two.
“But then again, you have to balance topicality with crowd-pleasing. Which will audiences enjoy more, George Bush or an impression of Ed Miliband?
“Professionally speaking, I want characters to win the election, but sadly we are probably going to lose a generation of people like David Blunkett and John Prescott.
“I have no handle on the new generation of MPs, like Philip Hammond and Theresa Villiers, and I don’t think David Cameron knows who they are either.
“We have the bland leading the bland.”
The show has two distinct halves. Rory will start with his stand-up act, full of impressions and topical jokes. Then he describes the second half as “a light-hearted Question Time”, a debate between members of the audience and a panel made up of Rory’s friends and local figures.
He is getting John Bird and John Fortune to join him in Richmond, and Coventry’s own Jon Gaunt, the rightwing columnist, has been mooted as a possible for the Midland show.
“Not that I agree with his politics, but I think he’d be interesting,” says Rory.
Which brings us to his personal views. Who will he be voting for in the election? Recent reports have put him in the Lib Dem camp after he attended a party event at the House of Commons, along with Brian May and David Baddiel.
But Rory says: “That doesn’t mean I support the Lib Dems. I was invited by Brian Eno and I asked if it was going to be a party political event, and they promised it wasn’t.
“I am a pretty liberal lefty, but I’ve voted for all sorts of different parties in my time, and so far I’m not convinced by any party in this election. The Conservatives are waiting a mighty long time to put their cards on the table.”
From a professional point of view, Rory hopes the Lib Dems won’t do too well as he admits he can’t impersonate Nick Clegg.
“I struggle with David Cameron, but I find Clegg particularly difficult to master.
“I imagined meeting him at the party and him asking ‘Can you do me?’. I was going to say ‘No, can you?’.
“I don’t think my life would be significantly poorer if I don’t impersonate Nick Clegg. I think life is short enough without sitting up night after night listening to tapes of him and George Osbourne.”
But new characters he enjoys doing include X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Louis Walsh.
“Imagine if they were the moderators in the TV leaders’ debates? That would make more people tune in!
“Even if people aren’t interested in politics between elections, I hope they are in the run-up to one. If they come along to my shows, they’ll get a full dose of comedy, current affairs and a bit of a debate. It’s something different.
“To be honest, I didn’t think I’d ever tour again. It’s a young man’s game, and I’m not a two-hour, stadium show kind of comic. I leave that to the likes of Jimmy Carr.
“But it will be great to get back on stage. I don’t get out much! I like touring, it gives you the opportunity to see parts of Britain you wouldn’t normally visit. It’s not like I’m ever going to take the family on holiday to Basildon or Rochdale.
“I like the idea of playing smaller, more intimate theatres and engaging with the audience. I’ve been appearing at book festivals lately and I like that sort of public appearance, rather than playing Wembley.”
Rory might brush up his Brummie accent in preparation for his Midland date, as he admits it could be better.
“I’d like to be able to do a better Adrian Chiles and Frank Skinner. I don’t bother to do Ozzy Osbourne, as Jon Culshaw has cornered the market in him. He’s very good at it. There are some people that Jon does best, like Russell Crowe and Tom Baker, and I leave him to it.”
* Rory Bremner’s Election Battlebus Tour stops off at Warwick Arts Centre on March 24. Ring 0247 6524254 or go to www.warwickartscentre.co.uk. It also plays Cheltenham Town Hall in April.