Like a lot of people, Rory Bremner watched aghast as he saw York disappear under water at Christmas.
Grand Opera House, York
Mon May 16 @ 8pm
And he decided to do something about it. “It was an idea I came up with when I saw the damage that was done when York was flooded.
“I really like York. But when we saw that happening to everybody I thought there must be something we can do. And sure enough there was.”
He got some fellow entertainers together and set about organising the Come Hell and High Water tour.
It has been to many other flood hit towns and cities already and the show comes to the Grand Opera House on Monday (May 16).
“It’s a chance to raise some money to go towards people who are trying to get back on their feet again,” he said.
Rory will be bringing his sharp satire and spookily accurate impressions – “There’s lots of EU referendum stuff. Everything from Cameron to Boris to Farage, to Obama and Donald Trump.”
Alongside him is comedy legend Barry Cryer – “he’s Leeds of course, but he’s still allowed into York” – comedians Rob Rouse and Katie Mulgrew, and Jess Robinson, “by some way the best, most exciting impressionist we’ve got.
“She does everyone from Beyoncé to Britney.”
Rory’s aunt lived in Spofforth, so he knows York well and is looking forward to returning. “I remember it from childhood. I loved going there.
“We did an episode of Great British Views there on ITV – I went up York Minster, they made me a waiter in Bettys for a couple of hours. It was brilliant, really loved it.”
Lack of satire
Expect Rory to be savagely funny on the state of politics today.
“Conventional politics is very discredited, people feel very disengaged,” he says.
“There’s a new kind of politics which is grassroots and petitions and protest. It’s what throws up everything from UKIP and Farage to Trump to Corbyn to the Scottish Referendum.
“Part of our disengagement is we don’t really have a satire programme on at the moment. When people were watching something like Spitting Image it was engaging people in a healthy way with politics.
“It’s a shame we don’t have a satire programme because far from mocking everybody and everything, people partly identify and relate to politicians. At the moment they’re kind of another species.”
Savaging the Tories and Corbyn
The government “is making it up as it goes along” and had to be shamed into taking refugee children.
“What’s depressing is people are leaving the NHS in droves. And the teachers’ morale is low, doctors morale is rock bottom.
“Government is about helping people do their jobs better, not making them feel shit.”
The official opposition aren’t impressing Rory either.
“This is the first year of a new government and they’re front-loading a lot of extraordinary policies that they’re not being held to account over,” he told YorkMix. “Labour, they just seemed to have given up any serious idea of forming a government in four years’ time.”
Jeremy Corbyn “doesn’t give any impression of being a leader”.
“He can’t carry on being filmed coming out of his house and being bundled into a car as if he’s being taken to court. If the cameras are outside your house, make something of it – don’t ignore it.”
The Scottish National Party’s Nicola Sturgeon “is far and away the best opposition leader we have in this country,” he says.
Rory’s already played in flood hit parts of Cumbria, in Lancaster and Hebden Bridge. “It’s gone really well. We loved doing them,” he says.
What has struck him is the spirit of those affected.
“It’s amazing. What you do see is the resilience of people who have been through all this and still manage to keep going. At Hebden Bridge all the signs in the local shops say ‘business as usual’ or ‘back soon’, even while there are skips outside.
“People just somehow find a way to get through it. It’s a devastating thing to happen, and insurance companies aren’t always the most helpful.
“I think this show is a great chance for those in York who weren’t affected to help out those who were, and for those who were affected to hopefully have an evening to raise their spirits a bit.”
It’s set to be a cracking night of comedy – and a chance for York to celebrate how far it’s come since Boxing Day.