British comedian Andy Zaltzman has a fairly lofty goal for Plan Z, his second tour of the U.S.

“It’s essentially an attempt to solve all the world’s problems through the medium of a stand-up show,” he says, speaking from his home in London, and growing more bemused as he talks. “It’s a fairly ambitious target, so we’ll see how it goes.”

He’s kidding around, but if there were a comic who could help cure what ails us in these trying times, Zaltzman is as good a candidate as any. The 43-year-old has a keen eye for our geopolitical landscape as well as a deep love for the absurd—qualities he’s honed on stages around the world for the past two decades.

But the outlet that has allowed him to truly sharpen his satirical edge has been his podcast The Bugle. Initially a vehicle for Zaltzman and his friend, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, the now 10-year-old show picks apart the bones of current events with guests like Wyatt Cenac and Hari Kondabolu, providing a much-needed chuckle for news junkies worn down by a constant barrage of awfulness.

“There’s lots of material to go around,” Zaltzman admits. “Almost every day, something new will crop up that is ripe for satire. At the same time, it would be nice if the planet would be just a little less cranky.”

Though his insights and wit were razor-sharp from jump, Zaltzman’s initial ambition was to be a sportswriter, so he could report on his beloved cricket. When he finally did venture into the open mic circuit in the late ’90s, it took him some time to find focus, as his early material had a surrealist bent—a solo show at the Edinburgh Fringe included a talking dog, voiced offstage by Oliver.

Support The Portland Mercury

Secure in the second decade of his career, Zaltzman has been afforded multiple opportunities to avoid taking on a day job, including his upcoming run of shows in London, where he will explore the events of the year and tours that have taken him to India and Bangladesh.

“Doing comedy in parts of the world that are foreign to you is exciting and challenging,” he says. “You get a very different response and you have to think a lot about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. But at the end of the day, it’s great fun.”

SLAY Film Fest
In person at the Clinton St. Theater 10/29 & 10/30