Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

 The Beehive Inn,

Grassmarket,  Edinburgh

Saturday 28th May 


We arrive early at The Beehive Inn for an evening of Monkey Barrel Comedy… and it’s already heaving. It’s not surprising that it’s sold out; the line-up contains some of Scotland’s most popular comedians. We are shoe-horned into the small attic room above the bar and take our seats among the high-spirited crowd into an atmosphere of excited anticipation,  the crowd primed for a good heckle. As tonight’s compere, Rick Molland, takes to the stage; he finds he has a battle on his hands with a few lively hen and stag parties, one of which is accompanied by a giant inflatable penis that makes its way round the room almost earning a guest spot on the stage. Molland gets interactive with the crowd, finding out who everybody is, getting the banter flowing and warming up the room  for the frolics ahead.

Vladimir MacTavish


Material :four-stars Delivery :five-stars  Laughs : four-stars


Vladimir MacTavish is the first stand up on the bill and his opening line “I bet you are all thinking Philip Schofield has let himself go a bit” gets everyone laughing straight away. Vladimir’s material is a melting-pot of  everything, from current affairs, through sports, to travelling the world. His topical monologues are peppered with quick & witty jokes, while his observational humour is fresh and well received. Alas,  Vladamir sometimes falls prey to the sterotypical mocking of we Scots, but still unleashes a brand of laugh-out loud comedy  we would go to see again.

Derek Johnston


Material :four-stars Delivery :five-stars  Laughs : three-stars

url.jpgComic, Derek Johnston, was probably the most unique act of the night. Taking to the stage armed with a saw, he looked slightly mad with his menacing eyes as he loomed over the audience. Derek’s droll delivery and macabre story-telling was an unexpected surprise; although he may have lost the crowd a little as those stag and hen parties were probably not his target audience. An eclectic mix of anecdotes of family days out teamed with ghostly tales of psychotic dolls, the latter accompanied by creepy sounds supplied by Johnston while playing the saw as a musical instrument.

Daniel Downie

 Laughs: four-stars  Material: four-stars  Delivery: four-stars 



Daniel Downie is full of energy; bouncing on to the stage with a confident “take no prisoners attitude”. Tonuight’s audience are a feisty bunch, and they challenge Downie – but the fella thinks street-fast on his feet and was quick to hit back with witty responses. He regales us with tales of phone sex with his Spanish girlfriend and the hazards of learning a new language = a lesson to be learnt here is don’t get your nouns mixed up in Spanish, or you could be asking your girlfriend if she wants cock instead of chicken for dinner across a busy supermarket. This, along with Daniel’s up-to-the-minute material had the audience in stitches.

Harry Garrison


 Laughs: five-stars  Material: five-stars  Deliveryfive-stars


Earning the biggest laughs of the night was Harry Garrison, an instantly likeable character with a cheeky grin and a glint in his eye. Garrison cleverly uses music to deliver his quick witted, dry, black comedy. He starts to play his guitar and confuses the crowd into thinking he is here to perform an acoustic love song, this quickly evolves into the entire audience singing along to a dark and hilarious song about a mail-order bride named Fred.

Harry has a cracking blend of Kevin Bridges’ nonchalant attitude and Bill Bailey’s musical genius; his set is full of belly laughs and inappropriate songs that will stick in your head for days. This is a brilliant value for money night out; where else would you get four well-established, high quality comedians for only a tenner? It’s a great atmosphere with crowd participation and friendly banter in a cosy wee venue. There were maybe a few too many location specific jokes that were lost on our friends south of the border, but overall this a great night out that we will be coming back to and would highly recommend.

Reviewers : Laura and Emma Murray

Gilded Balloon Comedy

Drygate Brewery


Friday May 6th


When MC Scott Agnew paced onto the front of the stage at the Drygate, clutching a bottle of the his inhouse ‘bear-faced lager,’ – I knew it was going to be a good night. I’m a big fan of Scott & his in-your-face gestapo-gay humor, such as ‘my mother hoped for one of those decorator puffs, not one daft for cock.’ So, listening to Scott haranguing the two bald-headed stag parties at the front, & drinking my own bottle of the bear-faced – conveniently & regularly brought to my table by the barman – I settled down for what I hoped would be a good night.


Michael Redmond


 Laughs: three-stars  Material:  three-stars  Deliveryfive-stars


Dubliner Michael Redmond is in his mid-sixties, but you can’t really tell from this ever-ebullient fella.  His passage as a comedian began in an 80s barrel of deap-pan – well more like corpse-pan – one-liners, which won him a slot on Friday Night Live. It was at that time he created the famous-among-comic-circles ,“a lot of people say to me – get out of my garden”  and “do you ever notice how nervous people get when you follow them up a ladder?”. Stewart Lee writes of the garden joke, retold by Joe Pasquale at the Royal Variety Performanceof 1989 – & Redmond

The joke defines him perfectly as an odd, outsider character and hints at a host of other weird situations as yet unrealised. For once, the audience is made to use its own imagination. There are no clues, or helpful pointers… The everyday phrase, “hey you”, is disrupted and made bizarre by being followed by the unexpected “what are you doing in my garden”. It is, to invoke a now wasted phrase, a moment of pure comic genius. 

Three decades later, Redmond is a looser cannon, chit-chatting along with some terrible jokes which are mystifyingly brilliant. A self-admitted member of the bad-hair brigade, his comedy is something akin to listening to Slovakian humour in translation, but as Redmond himself would say, ‘fair play to ya, it was funny as fuck.‘ The funniest bit for me was when he brought up, as Irish comedians so sardonically do, the potato famine… but adding the disastrous ‘mange-tout’ famine into the mix.


Julia Sutherland


 Laughs: four-stars  Materialthree-stars  Delivery: four-stars 

url.jpgThe Gilded Balloon Comedy Night’s are designed to showcase Scotland’s best talent to the wider world at large, & into every session are thrown the staple albacentric gags, such as the Edinburgh-Glasgow rivalry, & the such-like. To a seasoned comedy-watcher, this can drag a little, but if it is treat like a an artistic distinction, then you really can gauge the competence & quality of a comic through the sub-genre. Weegiewoman Julia Sutherland – who only socialises with people who would forgive her – gets a B+ for her role in putting the tourists at ease with her stabby-Glasga quips, including all the females in the audience with titbits such as the H&M mirror gives a you skinnier image. Watching Sutherland is like going on a logflume – an incessant & rapid descent into her comic universe, which twists into fresh material & insights every few seconds.


Ben Norris


 Laughs: four-stars  Material: five-stars  Deliveryfive-stars


And so to the night’s headline act. The guys cool, a possessing a sparkingly bright mind, which combined with his wonderfully witty observations of the familial mundane makes for a damn-fine comedian. A real crowd pleaser, we all burst into laughter as one, as if we were an orchestra who had been tuning up & just hit the note of harmony. Among his many great moments, I loved it when he went through the age demographic of the audience decade-by-decade, warming us all to him  the hypnotic, electric chant of his storytelling voice. Towards the end he began to stutter a little, his chit-chat I’d say not quite as strong as his material, but this guy really is what the quintessetial comedian ought to be