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“Among the defeats are many victories, and each one is precious.” | Chris Tavner reflects on the political passion of his youth for Shit Socialist

Tell us about the show you’re bringing to the Glasgow Comedy Festival, Shit Socialist.

It’s a personal show looking back at my life as a political activist, starting with my involvement with the Anti-Nazi League when I was at university. I look back at the various challenges I have faced, and the many failures encountered. I also consider the various hypocrisies and shortcomings compared with my life today, in my late 30s.

What inspired you to write a show about being a socialist activist?

The realisation that I had stories from experiences in my life that the majority of people have never faced. Stories of getting arrested for political activism, that sort of thing. Also, as a comedian, being able to see the absurdity in some of the things I have done.

What kind of hypocrisies and contradictions do you explore in the show?

I became a revolutionary Socialist, a Marxist, when I was 18. As such, I was opposed to things like the concept of private property, and didn’t believe in archaic institutions such as marriage. But I’m 37 now, and in the last two years I bought my first house and got married! What would the 18 year old me think?

Has writing this show taught you anything about how to navigate today’s politics?

Having been involved in activism for years, I have seen various movements rise like a rocket, but then drop like a stone. When I was young, this could be incredibly disheartening. But over time you learn the nature of such things, to learn to move with the flow a bit more. A defeat can feel devastating, but everything that we have won in terms of our rights, has been won by taking a stand, so there is always a reason to keep fighting. Among the defeats are many victories, and each one is precious.

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get more engaged in politics?

When the whole world is on fire, you can feel like you’re standing there with a watering can. Where do you start? I would say find something you are passionate about, whether it’s the environment, anti-racism, or other campaigns, and just get involved. You can’t do everything, but you can do something. And at all times, challenging as it can seem, try and keep an open mind.

What do you hope people take away from your show?

Whilst I always want people to get more involved in campaigning, that is not the point of my show. It is a personal stand up show, so the main thing I want is for people to laugh and enjoy themselves! When I performed it in Edinburgh, I even had it recommended by Tory councillors who had seen the show. I’ll let you decide if that’s a good thing or not…

Do you have any advice for anyone looking to get into comedy?

Make the fuckers laugh!


Chris is performing Shit Socialist at Glasgow Comedy Festival on 22nd March.

Book your ticket here.

Keep up with Chris’s work by visiting his website and following him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

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