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  • Alistair Braidwood

Funny How?: Glasgow Comedy Festival…

The Magner’s Glasgow Comedy Festival begins this week and this post is an attempt to guide you through the 400 odd shows that are on offer between the 17th Mar-10th April. There are many highlights available. As well as Richard Herring’s Christ on a Bike (see Herring’s Rules: An Interview With Richard Herring…) there is theatre which includes a production of Gregory Burke’s Gargarin Way at the Tron theatre and a rare live version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy at the Ramshorn theatre. There are educational shows, the best of which will surely be the science/comedy troupe that are The Uncaged Monkeys, whose number include Brian Cox (no, not that one, the other one), Ben Goldacre and Robin Ince. There are a fine selection of funny films, including Back to the Future, Some Like it Hot, The Blues Brothers and American-The Bill Hick’s Story.

But most people will be interested in the stand-ups who are visiting Glasgow. There are some old faces, some new faces and plenty of local faces. This is a small selection which covers all of these. Although the festival officially begins on Thursday one of the highlights is actually appearing at the Old Fruitmarket tonight (Wed 16th) and his name is Mark Steel. Steel is that rare comedian who is intelligent, angry, erudite and yet still funny. Way before comedians started to look at subjects which used to be the sole domain of academics and writers, Steel was discussing Issac Newton, Aristotle and Napoleon in his live act. Here is a clip of such a show:

Also appearing this year is a man who is often Steel’s partner in political comedy and Radio 4 panel shows, and no, the two are not incompatible. His name is Jeremy Hardy. Like Steel, Hardy is a survivor of the comedy wars of the 1980s and 90s. His gentle and amiable delivery often disguises his anger at the world’s inequalities and injustices. He is one of the best British comedians of the last 30 years. Here are the two friends bemoaning the state of their careers on a park bench, like a latter day Pete and Dud:

Greg Davies is now best known as headmaster Mr Gilbert in The Inbetweeners, but first came to comedy fame in the brilliant We Are Klang. Last year he took his comedy show Firing Cheeseballs at a Dog to Edinburgh where it was hailed as one of the best shows of the Fringe, and he has brought this show to Glasgow. Davies was involved in my favourite comedy sketch of the last five years when with We Are Klang. It is hugely unsuitable for work or family gatherings so I’m not going to post it here (if you want to know what it is then get in touch). But here he is solo on Live at the Apollo:

Tim Key first came to my attention as the resident poet on Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe. Since then he has popped up all over the place including work with Mark Watson and Steve Coogan, and he is always worth viewing. He brings his stand-up show The Slutcracker to Glasgow on 20th March. We are promised an evening of ‘film, poetry and athletic clambering’ all presented by a man who will be wearing a suit and drinking lager. Could you ask for any more? Here is his poem The Bad Gentleman which takes a serious look at suicide bombers:

There are lots of local talent on show this year, including Des Dillon, Des Clarke, Des Mclean, (all the Des’s), Janey Godley, Susan Calman, Bruce Morton, Daniel Sloss, Fred MacAulay, Jerry Sadowitz, Miles Jupp, Raymond Mearns, Phil Differ, Susan Morrison, Jonathan Watson, the great Phil Kay and many more. If you want a recommendation from this list then why not try Susan Calman, one of the most natural performers around. Here’s a wee taster:

Plenty to choose from. There are also lots of other events during the festival, including a few workshops on stand-up and writing for comedy, the bafflingly popular puppetry, some cabaret, and children’s shows. There are also the late-night festival clubs where you may well see comedians in the flesh. I’m told many like a drink. For the full programme go to glasgowcomedyfestival.


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