Bank Holiday Special

The Stand, Glasgow

24 May 2015

Iain Stirling
Iain Stirling

My last visit to The Stand Comedy Club was on a miserable November evening seven months ago, queued in a sedulous downpour that saturated the audience prior to Dylan Moran’s captivating performance. Mercifully, this evening’s Bank Holiday special at the venue was under drier conditions – and much drier wit – as another of Ireland’s favourite comics opened proceedings. As one of the stars of Father Ted, Michael Redmond’s cult status was already established, but as host of the club’s notorious weekly show ‘Sunday Sessions’, he has formed a church of faithful and devoted believers that attend this more relaxed, end-of-the-week, feel-good show.

In front of yet another packed out crowd, 64yr old Redmond welcomed a man more than half his age, Iain Stirling, to kick off proceedings. Research has provided that people are more health conscious at the start of each new week, so it was fitting, or perhaps contrary depending on when you consider the week commences, that Stirling broached the subject of gym-hungry, non-drinking friends. This was nothing more than a soft ice-breaker as the Edinburgh comic delivered philosophical, animated satire with bright witticisms about right wing group Britain First and political excuses for immigration issues. A confident delivery ensured that the audience were swift to respond enthusiastically to Stirling’s petitions and beguiling mannerisms prior to the second comedian of the evening, Jamie MacDonald.

MacDonald’s Edinburgh Fringe show “That funny blind guy” had already won favour in the east, and it was a short but highly funny set delivered by the ‘Caledonia Best’ voice (MacDonald provides a number of voice-overs and appears towards the conclusion of the advert). Although the comedian’s impaired vision was always going to be the core subject, it is a topic rarely broached and one with which the Stand crowd laughed heartily at through MacDonald’s wry opinions. Referring to blind sports as “blood sports”, an unorthodox examination of the visionless world created ludicrous, Mr Magooesque slapstick that beguiled the Glasgow audience from start to finish.

The third performer of the evening was the fantastic Loretta Maine; the wild and reckless American ball of frustration, created by British comedienne Pippa Evans. Maine’s embittered guitar songs and Absolutely Fabulous-style persona was the highlight of tonight’s show, engaging and alienating the crowd in an equally sublime and chaotic fashion. It was no surprise that a number of females in the crowd let their voices be known as Maine delivered her riotous ‘White Wine Witch’ song, drenched in tongue-in-cheek sour venom. As this was Maine’s fourth night at The Stand, it would have been understandable had she delivered a below-par performance, but this was ten minutes of uproarious piss-taking that sat easily with the Stand audience, and it was no surprise at the end of the show when she receives the largest acclamation – don’t miss her next time she’s performing near you.

After the final interval, it was the turn of long-standing comic Dave Johns. As a regular guest on comedy panel shows and having performed everywhere from Hong Kong to New York, it was disheartening that after Maine’s brilliant penultimate set that Johns didn’t live up to the expected hype as headline act. A number of the Newcastle comedian’s dated gags fell flat on the Stand’s cellar floor, with quips about lesbians penchants for Doc Marten boots, and archaic patter concerning Gary Glitter and Michael Jackson, failing to rouse the now-subdued crowd. At one point, Johns remarked “You are looking at me as if to ask is Dave funny or shit?” with one audience member towards the rear answering very much on behalf of the latter camp. As the Stand has always been known as a place that wills comedians to succeed, it was a pity that Johns was not perspicacious enough to gage that impersonating whale noises and ear-splitting karaoke-renditions of James Bond tunes would ever be enough to satisfy tonight’s public.

Not that this ruined the night, but first impressions last. Michael Redmond returned to thank each of tonight’s performers and, as always, The Stand had delivered another night of fantastic range and quality. Almost returning to his role as Father Stone in the highly popular afore-mentioned comedy series, Redmond stood at the back of the church (Ok, comedy club), shaking hands with all exiting – a huge delight for me as an ardent fan of the show. After eleven years or so compering his Sunday Service show, Redmond has lost none of his Irish charm and, in his own words, “Even though his hair is white, his eyebrows remain dark which mean they must not worry as much as the rest of him”. No need to lose any sleep over tonight’s excellent show, Michael.

Reviewer : Stephen Watt

Des Clarke: The Trouble With Being Des

Eden Court – One Touch Theatre

Inverness

Sat 23rd May 2015

des clarke

Its been a busy time for Des Clarke, what with hosting the Common Wealth Games closing ceremony, carrying the Olympic Torch through Glasgow, wearing a white trackie and having a sell out show at Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival last year. This current stand up tour is the full version of last years fringe show.

He arrives on stage and gets straight in to some audience interaction, telling how everyone he’s met in Inverness is delighted Caley have made it to next Saturdays Scottish Cup Final, and asking the crowd how the Scottish Cup, which was only up here for 2 days managed to get broken. Des tells some funny stories about growing up in a high rise in Glasgow’s Gorbels, where he had the nickname of Lemonade as he lived 7-Up  and his unfortunate early growth of hair, he was the second to get a moustache in his class…the first being a girl named Fiona.

After getting the crowd loosened up he introduced support act Scott Gibson on stage and for the next 45 minutes we were exposed to his dark, twisted humour which was extremely funny with moments of pure cringe, but maybe not for the faint hearted or easily offended. Having recently done his début solo show “Life After Death” at Glasgow Comedy Festival I think he will be one to look out for!

Following a short break, Des Clarke returned to the stage for the next hour, with his face paced energetic comedy, hilarious personal accounts and impressions! Occasionaly it felt a bit rehearsed, but he was at his best when he was chatting, working the crowd and being spontaneous. This is when we got to see his quick clever wit and the room was filled with belly laughs. After a long, eventful week, laughter really is the best medicine and this was the perfect tonic.

Reviewer : Zoe Gwynne

The Thursday Show – Edinburgh

The Stand

Thursday 21st May

Jeff Innocent
Jeff Innocent

The Stand’s Thursday Show allows you to see the club’s Saturday night show at a reduced price, £10 instead of £15. This Thursday’s was a proverbial mixed bag. Bruce Devlin compèred. An equal opportunities offender, he managed to insult a good chunk of the audience, but in good humour, much hilarity and in a way that keeps everyone on-side.

The first act of the night was Harriet Dyer, who announced her arrival by claiming that she was eccentric, although erratic would be closer to the truth. She flitted from subject to subject. Unfortunately nerves seemed to get the better of her and it made for an uncomfortable largely laugh free fifteen minutes.

The next act was probably the best of the night, Wayne Mazadza, a young Zimbabwean comedian, whose low-key comedy centred hilariously around the cultural differences between his birth country and his adopted home. He was followed by the transatlantically renowned Graeme Thomas,who started with great energy which had be buzzing, which sadly fizzled out towards the end of his twenty minute set.

The night was capped off by the most confident and polished performer of the night, Jeff Innocent, who has been coming to Edinburgh ever since 2001, when he gushed;, 

I’ve been in Edinburgh a week. In that time I’ve performed my solo show for five consecutive nights, appeared on a local TV program, been the subject of several features in the Scottish press, & had my first ever review – a glowing one. I’m pleased to say. All this & still only another 25 performances to go.

You could tell he was happy to be back, & his fresh material made sure the audience went home with smiles on their faces. Over all it was an entertaining night and excellent value for money.

Reviewer : Michael Kynaston 

Paul Merton’s Impro chums

Eden Court, Inverness 
Sunday May 2015 

2015-05-20 16.30.44

A good night with some impressive improvisation and more than a few nights  .On the stage the whimsical Paul merton was joined by Mike McShane ( of Robin Hood fame) , Lee Simpson, Richard Vranch and Suki Webster. The team immediately set about by making up a sherlock Holmes mystery about a silver spoon, each member had to keep the story going and if they stumbled the audience were encouraged to shout DIE! to indicate their elimination from the game. Paul Merton shows his talent for improvising as he works effortlessly with the four other comedians performing in the show. Between the 5 comedians there is a vast array of talent from singing, musical talents and dancing. The group work very well with each other getting audience participation for ideas for various games and sketches.

Another game involved Paul trying to guess his job of cats eye cleaner in Achiltibuie which caused much amusement mostly from the performers trying to pronounce it let alone give clues to Paul. Later we were treated to a very unusual Shakespeare play and a Gilbert and Sullivan song about sky diving. The group work very well with each other getting audience participation for ideas for various games and sketches. The talent for all the performing arts is impressive in particular the made up music (Richard) and perfect singing (Suki) along with funny one liners and lyrics from all the cast. Overall it was an excellent evening with more hits than misses. I would recommend this show for all ages.

Reviewer : Lucy Tonkin

Gary Little : The Thing Is

Eden Court, Inverness,
Saturday 1st May
*
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*
Gary Little’s performance was both original and hilarious. With a very ‘at ease’ stage presence the audience all felt we could have been hanging out in the pub together. The burly Glaswegian shares openly his checkered past as an ex-con and his wild days, long behind him now. Handling the crowd well, Little reg-ailed the crowd with tales of dog walking social etiquette, girlfriends, drugs, sex parties and on-line dating. Pulling all his material from real – life experience hes definitely had an interesting one!
*
His opening tales of dog walking and the daily problems that can occur could have only be made funny by wiegie banter. Dodging the neds in the park to carrying bags of ‘shite’ around are funny enough with out his social etiquette on varying greetings matched with dog breeds.
*
*
Little lets us on some background history of growing up in a high-rise in Maryhill during the 70’s. Growing up with three sisters in a one room flat, he was always his Mammies boy. Developing life long toilet behaviours stemming from the traumas of a shared landing toilet….the far fetched lies his ‘wee mammie’ used to tell him….and hanging around with a big dug who constantly wanted to ride him,,,,are a few of his child-hood tales. There was no one in the audience not laughing after this!
*
For sure this man has lived a colourful and wild life, all of which he can be thankful for as he has now found his calling in comedy. It was refreshing to see a performer stem laughs mainly about himself rather than others, and I get the feeling he has a lot more to tell! Not for the easily offended but I will be first in-line for tickets on his next visit to the Highlands.
*
Reviewer : Stephanie Mcdaid

Gilded Balloon – Edinburgh

Festival Studio

Edinburgh

1st May

drygate_1may

The new Festival Theatre Studio is a  parallel  modern building with a glass frontage built for maximum space. Clearly its in a prime location for the Fringe and the treading feet of the festival as well as multi-purpose use.  It feels like being in a new school building  but it’ll be different in appearance when its littered with flyers and art work.  The bar is makeshift so the space can be used for other things. The bar staff are a giggle, always good to have a bit of that going on.  The theatre itself is big, some tables  at the front which are fully occupied.  The rooms not packed but there’s easily as many people in attendance as you would find on a really busy night at the Stand.

To open and compare the gig we had Ray Bradshaw a 24 year old Glaswegian comic who seizes the opportunity to create a ruck between two lads in the front row via the medium of top trumps….starting with nationality and gradually debasing it into penis size. Obviously holding onto the notion that its always a winner to attempt  to embarrass people for laughs.  His style of patter is non aggressive and friendly.  There’s a hen party in the front row and frequent jibes about how our bride-to-be hates her mother in law gradually produced hilarity.  Particular because we all knew this wasn’t true.  It was obvious and these lovely Geordie ladies told me this in the toilets a break time.  Really it was gentle inoffensive offenses….and that included when he asked the ladies what they were doing later.  ‘Are you gonna throw a dildo out of the roof of your limo?’ was his thoughts. Dare him on his web page here.
Next up was Grainne Maquire.  From the outset it was hard to tell whether she is playing a character or not.  Shes dowdy and plain and a little mad.  Obsessive about politics, T.V., and the Pussy Cat Dolls!  Although she is Irish she tells us shes a Londoner and some of the political chat is lost on the Northerners in the crowd.  The T.V. referencing was lost on me a couple of times as I dont watch much but this didnt stop her demeanor on stage from being very funny.  I didn’t know who Kirsty Alsop was by name so it took a while to realize which program she was referring to.  She identifies herself as a feminist and her way of portraying how to deal with feminist issues is surreal, clever and facinating.  Particularly when its never obvious whether she is serious of not!  She tells women they should poo in the street for feminism and how porn could be transformed  into a stage for radical feminism.  You don’t see how to begin with but then her words explain it, your laughing and although you know her idea is ridiculous you are left wondering whether it would work.  Confusion reigned in this act as did her laughable perfomative stage presence.
After being broken up by some great travel holiday gags involving tipex sunblock and pissed Aussies drying they’re hands under condom machines enters Chris MacArthur Boyd.  Hes small (he has to lower the mic stand) but dapper.  Describing himself as a cross over between Gok Wan and Ronnie Corbett we are back to more T.V. referencing.  He plays on his geeky personality, living with mum and dad, failed relationships and harmless perversions.  “22 but a feotus” as he describes himself.  Sometimes its as if he talking to himself in the mirror in the bathroom.  He declares to a ex girlfriend who’s sent her bazookas to him on tinder that hes harder than it is to find a job.  She doesn’t get this so he explains how hard it actually is to find a job….including government policy.  Major nerd alert and she didn’t get back to him.
Headline act is Tom Stade.  He adorns the stage with his brash Canadian accent and husky voice.  Here again T.V. referencing plays a part but he parody’s this, he knows none of the programs he talks about would make sense in other countries.   He shouts and swears about everything, he hates his kids.  He doesn’t care about sweat shops, hes abusive to his wife.  He doesn’t care if a man has 19 kids and has to carry her vagina around in a bucket.  He doesn’t care about Monsanto or pesticides….na he don’t care about nothing.  He is hilarious and informed, best of all he is lying.  He’s appears like a man on the edge, who, if he doesn’t behave is going to get smacked round the head (by his wife) with a Jack Daniels bottle.  I was really glad to see someone up on stage who was just cutting lose.  Hes done some massive gigs so to him this must have been relatively small potatoes and to be honest its the first time I’ve seen a comedian performing drunk in a long time and I was impressed, this guy held it together.  There was a lack of uniformity about it but that just made it all the funnier.
All in all there was a good mix of age and experience.  Bradshaw kept the crowd going throughout out and most of all was friendly.  We were welcomed warmly in and out and the crowd was buzzing as we left the building.  It was fun when Stade appeared from the building and drifted off round the corner still ranting. You got the impression that his act that night had only just started.
Reviewer : Sarah Marshall