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.
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.
Laughs: Material: Delivery:
The 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.
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