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ROOKIE REVIEW: Sandi Toksvig

Rookie Review, Declan Bowring went along to Town Hall for evening of comedy and politics with Sandi Toksvig, see what he thought.

Flying in from Glasgow to grace Birmingham’s Town Hall, the wonderfully self-proclaimed “fabulous” Sandi Toksvig introduced the audience to her co-founded political party, Women’s Equality Party (WEP), with a fundraising evening of stand-up, humorous anecdotes and on-point political statements about gender in-balance faced in our society; targeting key areas such as politics, business and education.

Opening the show with Beethoven’s Ode To Joy, Toksvig skipped on the stage with glee; whipping the crowd into rapturous applause, and asked the audience: “does God ever speak through Cats?” before easing into a stand-up routine peppered with jokes about topical gender equality, furthered with plenty of swearing and one-liners. Garnering the biggest laughs of her stand-up segment were political jibes illustrated with an overhead projector displaying images of David Cameron with a pig, and Donald Trump’s hairstyle – alongside a naked Vladimir Putin on a horse; with Toksvig stating: “I would turn”.

Succeeding the stand-up were anecdotes about her life in the media and her adventures off the screen and airwaves. The largest audience reactions were garnered from stories such as: Toksvig spending 3 months at sea with a crew of men, with whom she eventually played a game of guessing their “sizes”; accidentally getting drunk in New York City and posing for a photograph with a horse-drawn cab driver, the actual horse, and Lionel Richie (and having no clue of the incident); as-well as nearly pulling an Argentinian midget.

She progressed to introduce the audience to “Whiff Whaff” (Ping-Pong), where the players use books instead of paddles. She subsequently recruited members of the crowd to play, on-stage, and keep score. One of the paddle-books was Sandi’s own favourite: “The Teachings of Queen Kunti”.

The laughter subsided for her to introduce the Women’s Political Party as a serious contender for UK politics; stating that the UK’s political system is “broken”. She began to express the party’s desire to rid feminism’s stigma as a “dirty word”, before buoying the atmosphere towards light-hearted comedy with a serious of old-fashioned sexist advertisements accompanied with one-liners.

Speeches were delivered by Sophie Walker (leader of WEP) and Jeszemma Garratt of The Fatherhood Institute (to discuss the importance of paternal roles in parenting). A subsequent Q&A session with Sandi took place – with the audience wanting to know exactly how to “clean up” the word “feminism”, and intricacies of language relating to gender.

Wrapping-up the show, Toksvig answered the question about God talking through cats with a deadpan “no”. She concluded the set by pretending to conduct an orchestra (complete with background music); goading the audience to have fun and join in, before profusely thanking Birmingham and leaving the stage.

Declan Bowring studies English Language at Aston University in Birmingham and has a passion is journalistic writing. He has reviewed all sorts of music and comedy events, a hobby that he has enjoyed since college.