Who would have thought it possible: an amusing lecture on tax

Let’s talk about tax

by Dominic Frisby

Dominic Frisby is a frequent contributor to MoneyWeek and our daily email, Money Morning – but you may not know that he’s also a stand-up comedian. His latest show – which toured Edinburgh this summer before ending its run last month at the Museum of Comedy in London – marries the two worlds neatly in an hour-long performance on the subject of tax.

Tax is not the most obviously amusing topic in the world, and Frisby’s stage set-up nods to this. Hand-drawn pie charts and bar graphs breaking down (accurately) the tax take and relative size of different nations’ tax codes form the backdrop, while a syrupy M&S-style voiceover reads out bullet points when it’s time to shift focus.

The show itself is a witty polemical romp through the history of taxation, its impact on shaping society, and how to resolve what Frisby views as its flaws and inequities. If you’ve read his first book, Life After The State, you’ll have an idea of what to expect. “Fix tax and we can fix society,” says Frisby. It’s an idealistic view, and a lot to cram into an hour, but Frisby deftly handles the audience interaction and never loses the thread of what is a deceptively complicated narrative. The show is crammed with historical trivia, and newcomers to the tax system will learn a lot. You might debate his libertarian take with your companions in the pub later, but you can’t fault his research.

It’s also genuinely amusing. I’ve sat through many talks on tax, but I can safely say this is the only time I’ve enjoyed it. This show’s run has now ended, but I’ll be watching to see which subject gets the Frisby treatment next.