Boarding schools, skiing holidays and Crash Bandicoot on the PS1. Tom Houghton opens our eyes to a whole new perspective of the upper-class in his honourable new Fringe show.
The focus of Tom’s show is almost exclusively about his privileged childhood and growing up in the shadow of his father, the former chief of the defence staff, General Sir Nicholas Houghton. He’s a musical loving comedian with a pa-PAH that used to be the head of the British military. It’s perfect sitcom material and if there isn’t one on the horizon, I will eat my knickers. The posh-o anecdotes are brilliantly told but Tom goes beyond this, layering his material with a surprising amount of pathos and humility.
To witness Tom’s eccentric energy, mad unkempt hair and plummy accent, you’d be forgiven for comparing him to a young Boris Johnson. Thankfully, that’s where the similarities end. Because unlike the Brexit-loving Johnson, Tom is pleasantly relatable. He does a great job of keeping our feet firmly on the ground and as we’re taken deeper and deeper into his fascinating lifestyle, we learn that he too shares this fascination.
These are daring times to be standing on a stage as a privileged white British male, but Tom knows what he’s doing and he delicately skirts the line of provocation without being offensive. He reminds us that everyone has baggage, and everyone needs sympathy. He doesn’t ask for it, but he earns it through the painful delivery of some of his more shameful anecdotes. It’s moments like these that elevates the show beyond what you might expect, hitting you hard with a pang of humanity.
Tom, it’s been an honour.
Tom Houghton: The Honourable, Pleasance Dome, Aug 3-26, 8:10pm