THE BUGLER: Q&A W/ Brit Satirist Andy Zaltzman



Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, broadcaster and author, who has firmly established himself in the vanguard of British comedy with his unique brand of political satire. He is the writer and presenter of the satirical podcast The Bugle, one of iTunes’s biggest ever comedy podcasts. Since The Bugle’s inception in 2007 it has gained a worldwide fan-base – including a prominent US audience. It has aired almost 400 episodes and each episode averages one million downloads. Initially co-written and presented with John Oliver (host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight), the podcast has now been relaunched as part of the Radiotopia network, with Zaltzman joined by a revolving group of regular co-hosts including Hari Kondabolu, Nish Kumar, Wyatt Cenac and Helen Zaltzman.

Zaltzman made his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2001, when he was nominated for Best Newcomer, and has now performed at the festival 14 times. Andy has been regularly performing his hit live show Satirist For Hire since its debut in Edinburgh in 2013 – no two shows are ever the same as each night he satirises topics sent in by the audience. His numerous and diverse TV appearances include Unspun with Matt Forde (Dave), John Oliver’s New York Stand-Up Show (Comedy Central), Russell Howard’s Good News (BBC Three), The Alternative Comedy Experience (Comedy Central), 8 Out of 10 Cats (Channel 4), Dave’s One Night Stand (Dave), Newsnight (BBC Two), Sky News, Daily Politics (BBC Two), CNN, The Late and Live Guide to Comedy (BBC2), The Politics Show (BBC1) and BBC News.

Zaltzman has been a regular on Al Murray’s 7 Day Saturday/Sunday for Radio 5, appearing on upwards ofEHrx6Ge70 episodes. On BBC Radio 4, he wrote and hosted Andy Zaltzman’s History of the Third Millennium, Series 1 of 100, and The Department, with John Oliver. Andy and John also hosted and curated the sell-out show Political Animal. In addition to a keen interest in politics, Andy is an avid fan of sport and has hosted Yes! It’s The Ashes for BBC Radio 5Live. He has also appeared on sporting punditry show Fighting Talk. Following the success of his appearance on Sky’s Cricket’s Funniest Moments, he returns in the forthcoming show Rugby’s Funniest Moments. He also regularly writes international sports channel ESPN’s online cricket blog Cricinfo and hosts CricInfo: Andy Zaltzman’s World Cricket Podcast. He will be doing a live performance of The Bugle podcast at Punch Line Philly on Sunday March 3rd.

PHAWKER: You are on record voting to REMAIN. Can you briefly explain your reasons for voting the way you did? Also, you’ve said there are good arguments on the LEAVE side, they just get drowned out by the bad ideas — do tell, what are the good reasons to vote LEAVE?

ANDY ZALTZMAN: No. I cannot briefly explain them. I can non-briefly explain them, or attempt to explain them, but, as the last three years of British history show, explaining things is no match for SHOUTING IN MASSIVE LETTERS about them. The briefest possible explanation I can give is that I thought remaining in the EU, which, for all its multifarious flaws is still one of the most remarkable and successful international political experiments in human history, was good for (a) Britain, (b) Europe, (c) the present, (d) the future, (e) my children, (f) their hypothetical future children, (g) people, (h) the planet, (i) my friend Juan from Spain, and (j) my various relatives who died in the Second World War. There were valid reasons to vote leave, even if I disagreed with them. The EU has, I think, overstretched its remit, and could do better. If we abandoned everything that ‘could do better’, however, we would also be jettisoning, amongst other things, democracy, capitalism, professional sport, science, the American dream, and most food.

PHAWKER: Assuming Brexit actually happens, will it spell the dissolution of the UK, with Ireland and Scotland becoming entirely independent entities, and if so why would that be such a bad thing?

ANDY ZALTZMAN: Almost certainly. From a purely selfish point-of-view, this would leave England as an almost incurably Conservative nation. Please don’t leave us alone with ourselves. We might not get on. Aside from the economics of it, which suggest that all outcomes are good/bad/indifferent (delete TheBugleLiveSITEaccording to political preference), it seems a bit silly to sacrifice the Northern Ireland peace process, and decades general stability and social progress, for a slightly enhanced feeling of national independence, which is what this seems to boil down to.

PHAWKER: Trying to gauge how the Trump presidency plays in the UK. Do most Brits think the election of Donald Trump as A) America has lost its goddamned mind B)The mask finally slipped and the long-hidden, thinly-veiled horrors of the American Id was brought into the light C) America has been trolled, and trolled hard, by Putin and co.?

ANDY ZALTZMAN: A. Definitely A. And also B. And let’s not forget C.

PHAWKER: Like all Americans of sound mind and body, I adore John Oliver, who has been your longtime partner in crime. Tell me something about John Oliver most Americans would be surprised to learn.

ANDY ZALTZMAN: Quiet about the crime, please, that’s our special secret. He has a decent left foot on the football field, but has no interest in defence. He was once physically threatened by an Ali G impersonator after a show at Swansea University.

PHAWKER: You are reportedly a huge fan of cricket, as both a player and a fan/commentator. Like most Americans, I know almost nothing about cricket, but I don’t let it stop me from dismissing it as a pastime for “limp-wristed upper-crust twits and cod-pale chicken-legged Nancy-boy teabags” — I mean how tough can a sport be if you wear a sweater while playing it, right? — please school me on this and disabuse me of this no doubt mistaken notion.

ANDY ZALTZMAN: I am not ‘reportedly’ a huge fan of cricket. I am verifiably, unashamedly, and incurably a huge fan of cricket. It is, without question, the greatest thing ever invented by humankind. It strips and reveals the workings of the human soul. It is true, unscripted epic drama. Sometimes. And when a primed athlete is hurling a 5½-ounce hard sphere at your head, at 90mph, and you are armed with a small piece of wood to defend yourself, I don’t suppose you worry too much about whether you’re wearing a sweater or not. Especially if you playing for England, and that ball comes with added force of centuries of colonial resentment.