Plan Z is the new satirical stand-up show of cricket lover and slightly less career minded half of podcast, The Bugle, Andy Zaltzman. Early in his set Zaltzman jokes about having set aside economic sense and voting out in the referendum, in order to supply himself with material, and it certainly has. If it weren’t for Zaltzman’s sunique wit and approach to the issue, it could feel like walking very well (perhaps too well) tread ground, but he manages to traverse a Brexit focused set without seeming tired or uninventive. He also knows his audience, so while the subject matter may be political, it isn’t heavy. Zaltzman is not out to convince anyone, he already knows his audience is on side and his preoccupation is to make light of the situation.
Zaltzman is clearly, perhaps too, aware of the different trajectories of The Bugle co-host John Oliver’s career and his own. He doesn’t seem genuinely upset by this (he’s got his own successes, having recently become the scorer for BBC Radio 4’s Test Match Special), but when he jokingly refers to Oliver as a sell-out, or celebrates that there are more people who have heard of him than Oliver at his own gig, it becomes hard not to feel Oliver’s absence. Zaltzman is a very funny man on his own, but he can lack a certain grounding, one provided brilliantly by Oliver. The last thing he needs is lasting comparisons to Oliver (and to be honest I’m personally of the opinion that Oliver’s stateside endeavours have suffered more from a lack of Zaltzman than vice versa), but Oliver does embody the thing missing from Zaltzman’s set, someone to call him out on his more obscure similes or indulgent puns.
Certainly, Zaltzman is a not your typical stand-up. His perspective on political issues can often be refreshing, and he brings a rare creativity to his sets; he can be very cleaver when needed, but also puerile at exactly the right time. While the set could have benefited from a bit of grounding, and there were a few unpolished moments, that doesn’t undermine the fact that his is a very funny show, and well worth visiting.