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

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