Review: The Best of Scottish Comedy, The Stand

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THE Stand is our best comedy venue, all year round – including August – bringing the finest comedic talent from Scotland and beyond to the Capital. However, to call this event the “Best of Scottish Comedy” is nonsense.

**

Tonight’s very cosmopolitan, slightly baffled audience has seen a strange show, which started fairly well but finished up “okay” at best.

Bruce Devlin is a great host, heckling the crowd and chucking around filthy put-downs. Opener Ray Bradshaw has good delivery and some nice ideas, although maybe a little more stage time than he can comfortably fill just yet.

Jim Park does rehearsed improvisation and blinkered observational comedy better than most, and is the highlight of the show. It’s not all on the money, and quite why there’s a duff American accent and a boiler suit is unclear, but an early plea not to laugh “cos it puts me off” sets the tone for an agreeably silly set of puns and punchlines.

John Gavin introduces himself as a father-of-three from Hamilton, “all by the same mother”. That sets the tone for a misanthropic “Scottish” take on “kids say the funniest things”. Even as it veers in and out of edgy territory, the realisation dawns that you’re just listening to someone talk about their kids for half an hour. That’s fine, of course, funny in bits, but not something you’d pay to listen to.

Introducing himself as being from “chatty Glasgow, not ‘stabby’ Glasgow”, Sandy Nelson has been living on Shetland for the last four years. That doesn’t excuse the dated references that litter his routine. Craig David, anyone?

Now, you do have to give points to a man prepared to go on a Scandinavian observational comedy riff for the benefit of a handful of Norwegians in the audience, but then even they didn’t seem to like it, since the punchlines were in Swedish.

The second half of Nelson’s bit was derailed by some heckling. Pretty low-quality heckling, as it goes but, having said “I feel like Cyrano de Bergerac”, Nelson sadly wasted a lot of stage time on nothing and so the put-downs, like the bulk of the show, were overbilled.