WHILE US President Donald Trump divides the world into those who love him and those who hate him, one group of people are united in their feelings towards him.
As a source of material it doesn’t get much better than Trump, as North East audiences will find out later this month when Rich Hall’s Hoedown comes to Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House.
The first half of the show is, Rich says, an examination of the catastrophe President Trump is wreaking on the world on a daily basis.
The US-born comedian joked: “I love the fact that Trump is President. It’s great for comedy, even though it’s dreadful for the rest of the world and humankind!
“But people expect me to talk about it. You can’t avoid talking about Trump because he infiltrates every part of our world like a weevil. He’s like an egg sac which has bored into every aspect of our lives.”
Rich, a familiar face on TV, most recently fronting the BBC-aired Rich Hall’s Working For The American Dream, says he has to be fleet of foot when tackling the subject of Trump.
“My material keeps changing because the guy changes every day on a whim,” he said.
“No Trump joke has any shelf life at all. It’s good for three hours – then it’s out the window. Jokes about the wall, for instance, are so last year. But at least it keeps you on your toes.”
The second half of Rich Hall’s Hoedown is a riotous tribute to the delights of Americana. With his band, the comedian performs 10 to 12 songs, many of which he improvises, using material he has gleaned from the audience in the first half.
Rich said: “The people in the front row realise that they will be targets, but they will also be serenaded. I like to find a couple who have been married for a long time and write a song about how they first met.
“You have to keep your mind open to improvise. The best moments come when the audience say to themselves, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’
“You paint yourself into such a corner that the audience think, ‘How is he ever going to get out of that?’ And then you escape. It’s a real challenge, but that’s what makes it funny.”
The Newcastle gig is part of a nationwide tour which has been going on throughout 2018. And it seems the audience like to get into the spirit of the show, turning up at venues dressed in a full cowboy hat and cowboy boot ensemble.
Rich, who won the Perrier Award at the 2000 Edinburgh Festival as his bourbon-soaked, country and western-singing Tennessean alter ego, Otis Lee Crenshaw, said: “The response has been astounding.”
One of Rich’s most memorable songs is called “Eritrean Trucking Buddy”.
He revealed: “It’s about the habits of British truck drivers. In America, a song about truck driving would be very romantic and all about women in halter tops hitchhiking. But in Britain, it’s far less romantic. The drivers have to get out and look underneath their truck for human cargo.
“This song is about a British driver who finds a refugee from Eritrea under his truck and gives him a lift. It works quite well – unless you’re from Croydon. It doesn’t show Croydon in a good light!”
■ Rich Hall’s Hoedown, Newcastle Tyne Theatre & Opera House on November 30 starting at 8pm.