Gareth Richards took part in the first Think Tank as one of the comics proposing an idea for politicians to then go on and debate.
This time he’s back in a revised role where he’ll be trying to keep the audience under control at the second instalment of the political comedy event.
Think Tank is the brainchild of former Guide award-winning comic Joe Wells. At each themed show, stand-ups pitch an idea and a panel of politicians or experts will debate it, with Joe as MC.
The first one was held at The Square Tower in Old Portsmouth in April on the topic of education.
Gareth argued that teachers who willingly take on difficult pupils should be paid more.
‘I think different people took it on in different ways,’ recalls Gareth,
‘I went for trying to put as many jokes as possible in, but it’s supposed to be satire so it should be making a point as well as being funny.’
Gareth had been a last-minute replacement for Romesh Ranganathan who had to drop out due to other commitments.
‘I think I had a day to work out what I was going to say. Usually with comedy you have lots and lots of time and preparation to make sure it works, but it was a lot of fun to do, and I think it was an interesting project to get politicians talking to people.’
After each of the three comics suggested an idea, it was then debated by the panel – with questions coming from the audience.
‘I was really excited about the audience stuff,’ says Gareth. ‘I think Joe felt a bit trapped by the audience side of it last time though – not everyone asked a nice brief question.
‘So I’m going to have a roaming mic and be like his legs on the ground and be a go-between. I can make sure people stay brief in a nice, funny way, but I can also give people who aren’t used to speaking in public a bit more space.’
Gareth’s also looking forward to seeing what comes from the floor this time.
‘I found it quite moving that last time we had quite a few teachers in the room. It felt like ‘‘should we be talking when there people here who actually do the job, know the issues, and have got things to say’’?
‘We want to keep it funny and keep it moving.’
This month’s theme is health and the panel of experts includes Keir Shiels of BBC3’s Junior Doctors, Rosalind Ryan of The Guardian and Martin Rathfelder from Socialist Health.
Comedians taking part include Angela Barnes, who’s been on Russell Howard’s Good News, Russell Kane’s Whistle Stop Tour, and The Now Show, and Iszi Lawrence, creator of the Z-List Dead List podcast.
In his regular stand-up shows, Gareth is known for his songs. Will Joe be letting him perform any of those?
‘I don’t think so, and I don’t really have any political songs at the moment. I did do one about Nick Clegg though – it’s called The Nick Clegg Song.’
Think Tank is at The Wedgewood Rooms on Thursday, doors open 7pm, show starts at 8pm. Tickets £10. Go to wedgewood-rooms.co.uk or call (023) 9286 3911.