Berry already knows how it feels to have a Twitter mob rise up against him. In his armoury of characters, he also has a Bristol student, “Trustafarian” (a young person who presents as a paragon of counterculture despite being supported by their parents), who mocks drug culture and the hard Left. Earlier this year, one – admittedly not brilliantly executed – skit saw this character attend the “Kill the Bill” protests against the Government’s police, crime, sentencing and courts bill. That one didn’t go down very well.
“The critique was that it was ‘punching down’, which I thought was absurd. To use Marxist language, it was a parody of the bourgeoisie pretending to be the proletariat, which was lost, I think, on Twitter,” Berry says. “It was all said from a Left-wing perspective – I agree with the right to protest, it was just a critique of middle-class privilege…” He looks a bit exasperated. “I was just trying to be funny, but with comedy, people get so cross.”
At the time, Berry logged off for a while, as people attacked him from all angles and pointed out that he is himself privileged – a fact Berry is acutely aware of, to the extent that it makes up the backbone of his stand-up routines. Then he remembered that Twitter is not a real place, and came to the conclusion that with some people you just can’t win.
“The hard Left don’t like being mocked, they don’t like laughing at themselves, in a way that the Right really do. I think the Right have much more of a sense of humour, and take criticism quite well. Boris Johnson goes on Have I Got News For You, Jacob Rees-Mogg does stuff like that… The Left doesn’t seem to have that ability.”
Incidentally, Berry is quite posh, or at least looks it – “I have a particularly posh face,” he laments, accurately, to the photographer. The son of a teacher and accountant, he was born in Crewe but grew up in Reading, attending the same private school his mum taught at, before reading philosophy and theology at Oxford.
He broke into comedy by doing such spot-on impressions of tennis players that he caught the attention of Andy Murray, who tweeted a video of Berry’s, launching him onto the radar of Dead Ringers at just 21. He’s been doing impressions, stand-up and character work ever since.