Promoter claims he has set famous Scottish comedy backdrop from The Stand in Edinburgh on fire
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Alan Anderson paid £7,500 to snap up The Stand’s painting at a fundraising auction during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and announced plans to install it at the Rotunda Comedy Club in Glasgow that he runs.
However, Mr Anderson claims he has decided to burn the painting of a cowboy with a toy gun pointed at his head in protest at its removal from The Stand in Edinburgh in the wake of complaints that it was offensive and inappropriate.
The 9ft tall and 8ft-wide painting had provided the backdrop for appearances at The Stand by Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle, Phil Kay, Stewart Lee, Daniel Sloss and Johnny Vegas.
However, the club’s management said “countless” comics had made reference to child suicide while standing in front of the backdrop, people had found it “offensive for different reasons” and the logo had had to be altered for advertising campaigns.
The painting was created for a degree show at Edinburgh College of Art by artist Thomas “Mac” Macgregor, who was involved in the launch of the York Place club, which was set up by Tommy Sheppard and Jane Mackay in 1998.
MacGregor, who based his cowboy on an old family photo of his brother Dave, has been asked to reproduce the club’s classic image, “just without the gun”.
Mr Anderson, organisers of the Scottish Comedy Awards and the Scottish Comedian of the Year competition, outbid Sloss to snap up the painting, which was described by The Stand as “a piece of comedy history”.
After acquiring the painting, Mr Anderson said: “The cowboy has become the second most iconic image in Scottish comedy after Billy Connolly’s banana boots.
"The decision to remove the Cowboy, juxtaposed with Glaswegian Jerry Sadowitz's shows being cancelled in Edinburgh, illustrate that comedy is losing its cutting edge.
"A comedy club should not be a safe space for ideas. It is where comedians should shoot down both themselves and the establishment.
"Glasgow is the real beating heart of the Scottish comedy scene. We will ensure that this beloved image remains intact at a Scottish comedy club to help inspire the next generation of comedians.”
However, posting on social media, Mr Anderson said: “When you are having a quiet Thursday night burning a painting of a COWBOY and the fire brigade turn up because oil paint on mdf makes big coloured flames.”
Mr Anderson told The Scotsman: "According to The Stand’s communications about the backdrop removal, it is offensive, it is inappropriate and it is triggering.
"They wanted it removed from their club, but strangely over a month on they still have similar images on display as the backdrops to their venues in Glasgow and Newcastle.
“So because of this alleged inappropriate offence and mental instability the image causes, the ultimate conclusion is that it should be destroyed.
“If they had the courage of their convictions, instead of pandering to nonsensical complaints, then the painting would have been destroyed by them and not left to others to fulfil.”