There aren’t many ways for white, male, middle class comedians to credibly leave it all on the line, but Stuart Goldsmith has managed it. How so? By dedicating his latest show entirely to the climate crisis: a topic almost guaranteed to produce a full-body cringe. When two audience members walk out very early doors, he laughs gamely: "They’re the first ones of the festival!" he says, with a touch of pride. It’s only day two.
If they’d stayed on, they would’ve gotten what the rest of us had the privilege to experience: a warm, hilarious hour that pokes fun at our hypocrisies, while suggesting genuine pathways for change. When Goldsmith invites the audience to confess to their deepest, darkest acts of climate criminality, one woman all but wails: "I like cling film!" Such is the rapport he builds with his crowd that many are willing to lay our climate guilt at his feet.
For who is Goldsmith – or any of us – to judge? By skewering his love of business class flights, and his fraught relationship with his future grandchildren, Goldsmith makes clear our tangled complicity in systems beyond our control without allowing us to languish there. Through his free-wheeling anecdotes about famous tombstones, and those XR newsletters you’re never, ever going to read, he creates space to breathe amidst the eco-anxiety; camaraderie amongst our failures; and, spoiler alert, reasons to hope.