The Honourable Tom Houghton
Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★✩
THERE’S not much honourable about Tom Houghton. He only got a 2:2 in his drama degree, he tried to run away from home as a kid and he’s been arrested three times.
Which is all a bit awkward when your dad — Baron Houghton of Richmond, the former Chief of the Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces and now Constable Of The Tower Of London, where Tom, ludicrously, resides — is now a lord, and you’ve just been given an honorific by default. ‘I failed history,’ he says. ‘Now I live in it.’
Houghton unleashed parts of his charmed life in his solo stand-up debut last year, and impresses now for the same reasons: he ensures none of this biographical romp is alienating by vividly teasing out the absurdities of privilege and the eccentrics and bores he’s encountered through it. He also has the ability to ratchet up and fire out a gag with the skill of a marksman.
His dad’s peerage gives the journey focus, and sets up a pay-off about role reversals that follows neatly on from the hints at the familial fault lines his dad’s career has cast. Houghton offers plenty of mischievous twinkle, but he also had tricky times and it’s this that gives his work more fascinating layers.
He might not be honourable, but Houghton is fast becoming a stand-up that oozes class.