Commissioned

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Glasgow Comedy Festival
March 27th, 2019


As one of the Glasgow Comedy Festival performances, I was really impressed with the quality of Commissioned and the range of comics, poets and artists on hand. Based around the theme of holidays, each artist was given two weeks to prepare their material for the show. Performed within the basement room of the State Bar, the venue really suited the intimacy of the show, and made for a friendly, participative energy between the acts and the audience.

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Elaine Malcolmson

The warm, communal liveliness of Commissioned was mastered by the show’s host, Elaine Malcolmson, jumping with ease between crowdwork over terrible holidays, to playfully abusing a Brexiteer sitting in the front row. She also acknowledged the initially disorganised feel to the show, with some of the comics who were billed not turning up on the night. Malcolmson followed this with a brilliant bit on some of the worst excuses she has ever been given for comic no-shows (“my girlfriend cut her finger”). For an event that was also slightly hindered by having its show-time wrongly listed online, Malcolmson did a fantastic job as host.

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Cat Hepburn

As one of the first acts, spoken word artist Cat Hepburn gave an excellent, early dynamism to the show by performing a set based around the worst experiences her female friends had encountered while on holiday with their ex-boyfriends. As a naturally likeable performer, she helped the audience quickly settle into the show, and was well-received. This was followed by a spoken word performance by Kevin P. Gilday, who told a hilarious story explaining why people with anxiety, such as himself, really shouldn’t travel to the forests of Ghana. His piece about trying to fend off poisonous snakes while travelling through African villages filled with machete-carrying inhabitants was brilliant.

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Sian Bevin

Closing the first half of the show, Sian Bevin shone as one of the show’s most impressive performers. Her observations on the privileged tourists she encountered on her travels in India stood out as one of the night’s sharpest moments, and her very personable, slightly awkward style worked really well with her material. The second half of the show continued with a very funny, neurotic animated comedy by EM. Steven Dick followed with a clever video short on his recent “holiday” to Aberdeen, dotted with misery inducing shots of the town and his Megabus journey. Timing between the divergent acts was one of the show’s biggest strengths, and a testament to Malcolmson’s excellent hosting.

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Scott Agnew

Scott Agnew delivered a clever finale to the show, and easily stood out as Commissioned’s best act of the night. Having seen Agnew numerous times at the Stand, the indomitable, raw liveliness he brought to the stage reinforced why he is considered to be one of Glasgow’s strongest professional comics, weaving cleverly between reminiscences on shite holidays and other pieces. His domineering stature accentuated his material, where Agnew, seated awkwardly on a small stool, gulped portions of his beer between main punchlines and tags. Seeing him in action again was a real delight, and delivered a perfect finish to an already excellent and diverse show.

Overall, I was impressed with Commissioned, and thought it made an excellent contribution to the Glasgow Comedy Festival. Ambitious in its structure, it struck the right chord between experimentation and expertise, and ensured a real diversity to the structure of its line-up that others show haven’t done quite as well. Now celebrating its seventh year in the scene, Commisioned’s performance at the 2019 Glasgow Comedy Festival was a real delight to watch, and I’m looking forward to future contributions.

James Nixon

An Interview with Andrew White

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Bubbling with the comedy ebullience of youth, Andrew White is taking his teenage wisdom on the road… 


Hello Andrew, so first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
I was born in Surrey but grew up in Bournemouth where a lot of my family is. Then, for the last ten years I’ve been just outside of Salisbury for schooling reasons. It’s a really lovely area, but nothing ever happens (Russian business aside). On the one hand it means I’ve managed to build a circuit of local gigs without much competition, but on the other hand, most other events are at least an hour away.

When did you first realise you were funny?
When I was cocky little fearless 15 year old. I got up on stage thinking I was hilarious. Ever since, though, it’s just been a spiral into self-doubt and imposter’s syndrome. If I hadn’t started then, I don’t think current me would give comedy a go.

How did you get into performing comedy?
There was a youth performance open mic in Salisbury and I wen along to try out doing some jokes. I’d always loved stand-up and really wanted to do the same as what I watched on TV. As any other comedian would’ve already guessed, the open mic was all music acts and it was a strange environment to tell jokes. Luckily, the woman running it (Flo) was involved in comedy through improv and steered me towards proper comedy environments.

If your style was a soup, what would be the ingredients?
Minestrone in a sieve. There’s a lot going on, and not all of it works for me, but I’m slowly picking out the best ingredients and trying new ones to form the most satisfying soup.

What are the creative processes behind writing your material?
A lot of the time an initial idea comes to me whilst thinking random thoughts to myself. A certain train of thought may make me smile, and then I’ll try and hear myself saying it on stage, and if it sounds workable I’ll write it down. Then development comes from a mix of sitting and writing out, talking it through in my head, and finally saying it aloud at a new material night. Occasionally I’ll write with another comic called Sunjai Arif as well, that outside view on material is always useful, plus he’s very funny!

As a post-Millennial, do you find that comedy is changing, is the material of older comics still relevant?
Comedy is definitely changing, and for the better I think. It’s becoming a much more creative and exciting art form. There’s a focus on originality & well written material, whilst cheap punchlines / premises are rightly being snubbed by industry and audience alike. The material of older comics’ is definitely still relevant, provided it’s funny, engaging, and original. That has nothing to do with age though, that’s just about the calibre of the comedian. In fact, it’s often younger comedians who will deliver “irrelevant” material, just because they’ve not learned that it won’t fly anymore. I could list dozens of older comics who are some of the funniest and most original acts about, but I think the praise would be somewhat tainted with me calling them “older comics”!

What is your ideal Sunday afternoon?
A game of football with friends, and then home to a light dinner, hot bath, and a film.

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Can you tell us about the show?
It is all about me wanting to quit stand-up and how university will be better for me. I’m currently on my gap year doing comedy full time, but it’s not everything I imagined it to be, and after one particularly awful gig, I decided that would be that. The show follows on from the gig looking at the benefits of higher education, and asking how much value I could add to the stand-up world anyway. There is some lingering lust for comedy that shines through though, and it becomes more difficult a decision than I first thought…

Where did you get the idea for Retirement Tour, & is the reality realising your original vision?
I had the idea during Edinburgh last year, but it was mainly a provocative joke title. Since then it has changed massively and I’m actually torn between the two paths in real life. From a stupid joke idea, it’s become a very real, very honest, and very soul-bearing show. I’m still living the narrative of it as well, so it’s quite unique – you get to see the decision making evolve in real time alongside my genuine life.

If this is your last year as a comedian – & The Mumble hopes its not, by the way – what the hell are you gonna do instead?
If it is (which it may well be), I’d go to University to study Linguistics. From there, career paths are very varied – speech therapy, marketing, working with the police, all sorts! I may even end up in an entirely unrelated profession. I guess the short answer is, I don’t have a clue!

What will you be doing for the rest of 2019?
After Edinburgh, I’ll probably be starting at Cardiff University. I’m not 100% though. For now, I’m focusing on the show and making it as good as it can be.


Retirement Tour

BLT - Andrew White

Bath: March 27 @ St James’ Wine Vaults
Swindon: April 9 @ The Victoria
Bournemouth: May 3 @ Bournemouth Little Theatre
Brighton: May 4 @ The Caxton Arms
Liverpool: July 1 @ Hot Water Comedy Club, Seel St
Shaftesbury: July 6 @ Shaftesbury Arts Centre
Edinburgh: August 2-25 @ The Mash House, Cask Room

www.standupandrew.com

Glasgow’s Glee

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Glee Club, Glasgow
March 1st, 2019


As a long-time fan of Glasgow’s stand-up scene, I found myself pleasantly surprised when I attended the Friday Night Comedy show at the city’s recently opened venue The Glee Club. An established stand-up staple in Birmingham, Cardiff and Oxford, The Glee Club’s expansion to Glasgow provides an exciting opportunity that bridges the gap between the more intimate comic experiences exemplified by The Stand Comedy Club and larger, theatrical venues, a point made by legendary Glasgow comic Gary Little. Between generous pitchers of beer and snacking on my mate’s plate of nachos, I found the overall experience pretty impressive.

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Scott Gibson
The March 1st show was hosted by the effortlessly hilarious Scott Gibson, and featured (in sequential order) Rosco McLelland, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris. Having seen Gibson killing it numerous times at The Stand, I found him to be a brilliant host, who masterfully whipped the crowd into a fury before each act with his grounded, self-deprecating comic wit. Gibson’s confident, reassuring demeanour also helped to remind his audience to be respectful to the incoming acts, while containing the enthusiasm of some rowdier elements of the show’s audience, a disciplinary edge that I’ve found unfortunately to be lost on many hosts. While hardly an easy task in such a large venue, Gibson exuded an excellent energy that continually drew the crowd in.

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Rosco McLelland gave an energetic performance as the show’s opener, but his material paled in comparison to the elegance of Tiernan’s act and the vibrancy that Norris projected as the show’s headliner. Having seen McLelland do brilliantly in smaller rooms like The Stand, I felt his lukewarm performance was perhaps partly due to the sheer size of The Glee Club, but also possibly a natural reaction as a performer getting used to a new space. As a pathway between low-ceiling stand-up rooms and Apollo-like theatre spaces, I couldn’t help but feel that it’ll be harder for subtler acts to project their acts at The Glee Club as effectively as headliner performers. Showing moments of great comic insight, perhaps McLelland will feel more settled next time around.

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Eleanor Tiernan
Reflecting on the show’s final two acts, Eleanor Tiernan and Ben Norris dazzled the audience with their performances. In her effortless dalliance between more observational moments and socio-political commentary, she peppered her act with questions over the MeToo Movement, the difficulty of having a vagina (which she brilliantly compares to a piece of 1980s machinery that works, but is always leaking when you don’t expect it), and the role that women play in promoting a more nuanced understanding of female identity. While I have a particular leaning towards more socio-political comics, I have to say that, even in its lighter moments, Tiernan’s act was a delight to watch. Her appearance at Friday Night Comedy clearly illustrated her enviable talent as a headliner comic, and I really hope to see her again.

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Ben Norris
As the show’s main headliner, Ben Norris’ explosive stand-up routine made for a fantastic finish to the night, brimming with intelligent and penetrative observations on British culture and life as a father. Weaving his material with some brilliant moments of crowd-work, his deliciously confident, likeable energy lifted the show to new heights, and made for some fantastic moments of crowd-work with the crowd, particularly when he found himself struggling to understand sections of his predominantly Glaswegian audience. In one brilliant moment, after failing to understand a woman’s name in the front row (referencing her as “Laun” instead of “Lauren”), he developed this incomprehension into a clever joke on how much easier life must be in Glasgow when you just remove the middle of each word. Bringing a rock-star dynamism to the venue, Norris truly shone as the show’s headliner.


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Main Stage at Friday Night Comedy

Reviewing the club more broadly, one major strength I think The Glee Club will bring to the Glasgow comedy scene is its employment of security staff. Having seen numerous shows ruined beyond belief by hecklers, their subtle presence in the backdrop of the audience was a very welcome addition. I also felt that the show’s provision of food and pitchers balances well with the needs of the stand-up performances and in avoiding any possible disturbance it could cause to the shows. While I typically view the inclusion of food at a stand-up venue as a poor sign of the show’s management – a profit over performance indicator – The Glee Club pulls it off well, ensuring that people can order food and drinks at the bar while avoiding any tab system that could disrupt the flow of the acts while the food is being delivered. However, a small criticism I’d make about it would be the near-deafening preamble music played between the show’s breaks. Lasting between two-to-three minutes, the music was like a mixture between 1970s cinema advertising and the kind of thing that Michael Bay would use as the score for a space shoot-em-up. Rather than getting me pumped for the next act, it just left me irritated.

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Overall however, Friday Night Comedy was an excellent showcasing of The Glee Club’s potential as a Glasgow stand-up venue. The playhouse size of the club offers the potential to accommodate a market between smaller and larger venues, and with that, to expand the range of opportunities for both audiences and performers. As comic Geoff Norcott commented on The Glee Club’s launch in Glasgow, the “showbiz staging” of the club gives it a certain cultural and commercial credit that makes it stand out from other arenas, noting, “it’s the one you invite the in-laws to if you want to convince them you’re doing alright.’ While I’ve noted that there are some negatives when compared with smaller venues, its positive reputation among British comics and audiences places The Glee Club in an enviable position to build a prominent platform for professional shows. I feel that as Friday Night Comedy continues, it will continue to tighten its line-up in a similar way to The Stand, and in doing so, will mark itself as an increasingly important comic hub in Glasgow.

James Nixon