It’s back to school for new Borderer Rory Bremner

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Funnyman Rory Bremner will be taking a “mock exam” in comedy when he appears in Galashiels this weekend, he has revealed, writes Paul Kelly.

The satirical impressionist is performing with his occasional comedy partner, Jan Ravens, at the town’s MacArts venue on Sunday, in afternoon and evening shows. For Edinburgh-born Rory, it’s a chance to fine-tune the performance ahead of a series of appearances at the Edinburgh Festival.

Audiences in Galashiels can expect to see Rory’s Donald Trump going head-to-head with Ravens’ Angela Merkel, with appearances from such political luminaries as Nigel Farage, Dianne Abbott, Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg. It’s a show played for laughs, but one which also includes telling insights into the increasing political paralysis gripping the globe.

For Borders Book Festival regular Rory, 57, who shares a home near Kelso with wife Tessa and their two children, finding the venue was something of a revelation.

He said: “I asked Paula Ogilvie, who runs the Borders Book Festival, if she knew of a Borders venue and she suggested the MacArts. I’d never come across it before, but it’s brilliant. There it is, slap bang in the centre. I had no idea it was there, but it is perfect. I always kick myself when I don’t do a show in Edinburgh, but preparing this particular show has rather scuppered the summer holidays, because the first part was helping get my daughter through her GCSEs and the second was preparing for the Edinburgh Festival, which Andrew Maxwell, a very good comedian, calls ‘exams for clowns’. Quite a lot of these last six weeks or so have been spent essentially revising for the exam that is Edinburgh, and in a sense Gala is my mocks – I’ll be writing the same answers, if not necessarily in the same order.”

Rory, star of award-winning TV shows ‘Rory Bremner... Who Else?’ and ‘Bremner, Bird and Fortune’, said he now regards the Borders as home, adding: “My wife Tessa’s parents live just up the hill by Hawick and I’ve always loved coming to the Borders. Then this house came up about 10 years ago and we bought that and did it up, and it’s really where I like to be best of all, to be honest, and I call it home.”

Although fascinated by the machinations of politics, Rory admits that some of today’s leading political figures are “beyond parody”. He explained: “Boris Johnson and Trump are more than capable of making themselves look ridiculous. You can never predict what is going to happen with the characters or the situations. I think that since the Scottish referendum in 2014 it has just gone crazy and things have happened that you could never have predicted.”

On the “mad riddle” that is Brexit, he said: “It is like that episode of ‘Breaking Bad’ which was all about trying to get a fly out of the laboratory. It’s like we’re at an impasse and nothing is happening, but Theresa May is trying to find out where that buzzing sound is coming from.”

z Rory Bremner and Jan Ravens appear at MacArts in Galashiels this Sunday, with performances at 4.45pm and 7.45pm. The evening show is sold out, but there are still a few tickets left for the matinee. To book, call 01896 756852 or go to http://bit.ly/Mac-Arts