Edinburgh Fringe hit show is now being shared online
Comedian Samantha Hannah is offering some lockdown laughter after releasing one of her hit Edinburgh Fringe shows online.
How to Find Happiness in a Year had followed on from her previous Fringe production How to Find a Husband in a Year.
A measure of her success in the earlier enterprise is that the video (in accordance with lockdown rules) was filmed in front of a live audience of one. That one being Toby, the man she met on her search for love and now lives with in London.
But finding happiness is perhaps an even more ambitious challenge and takes Samantha through the world of self-help books and even into the fine details of the UN’s World Happiness Report.
Samantha, who was raised in the Scottish city of Perth, said: “I think a lot of people need some laughter in their lives right now and with events like the Fringe cancelled, and comedy clubs in crisis, that’s not always easy to come by.
“And I feel that making the video totally saved my sanity during lockdown. Things had been going well and I had given up my full time job at the start of the year to fully go for it comedy wise. Then three days into my new part time job I was furloughed and all comedy was cancelled by that point too.
“I’d done a big crowdfunder earlier this year and had planned a brand new show for the Edinburgh Fringe and now that was cancelled too. I felt so lost.
“Then I decided I would make something myself. It got me through a tough time. Now it’s out there and I’m no longer furloughed either.”
The video, which updates her 2019 Fringe show, explores many aspects of happiness, from passion and romantic love through to finding contentment and learning to be comfortable with yourself.
Samantha shares pearls of wisdom that she has picked up – including the benefits of stopping being embarrassed when you do something ridiculous and thinking of yourself as a “big emotional Weeble”.
And ultimately her biggest personal discovery is that what makes us most happy is connectedness – our meaningful relationships with others – something many people are hoping to rediscover and reinforce as the country starts to come out of lockdown.
Kerry Godliman is a woman who gets things done, as anybody who saw the comic win series seven of Taskmaster in 2018 knows. And now she is touring her new stand-up show, BOSH, the title of which is inspired by that experience.
She explains: “Greg Davies [Taskmaster’s presenter] used to say, ‘Here comes Godliman, boshing along’. I wouldn’t describe myself as intellectual but I am quite a rational person and don’t over-complicate things. I work out what’s useful and then crack on, and that seemed to work on the show.”
She stops and recalls with a laugh: “I certainly didn’t overthink it, and one time Greg said I was like Phil Mitchell, which wasn’t very complimentary.”
She describes BOSH: “It’s just me talking about the last year or two, observations I’ve made and experiences I’ve had. I suppose it’s essentially about being in your mid-forties and being a parent and trying to be a good human being.
“One of the themes of the show is about what it is like living in 2020, trying to manage modern life, my slight bewilderment at consumerism and trying to be ethical.”
Much of Godliman’s material comes from her own life – “a cartoonish, exaggerated version of it” or “sometimes a line might come from something I’ve said on Twitter and it’s caused a response that I find interesting”. But she’s not the kind of comic who listens to other people’s conversations in cafes or on buses for material. “Oh no, I don’t do that,” she says, laughing. “People can chat away with no fear of turning up in my show.”
Godliman admits she can be a bit of a worrier, and reads a lot of lifestyle books and articles, taking “positives from some and discarding others that are less helpful. The trick is in knowing which is which, of course”.
She reserves scorn for the modern profusion of parenting books, many of which she finds judgmental or downright unhelpful. “There used to be just one parenting book and now there are whole sections of bookshops with them.
“I talk a lot about parenting in the show, although it’s not specifically about my kids [a son and daughter aged 12 and nine] because they didn’t ask to be on stage.
“It’s more about my failings as a parent, of always trying to do the right thing. I read a lot of parenting books and I always seem to fall short of what they expect – I think for a lot of people parenting is just managing guilt to varying degrees.”
Aside from her stand-up, many will know Godliman through her extensive acting CV, including starring in two of Ricky Gervais’s comedy dramas, Derek and After Life. “I had met Ricky at gigs and had bit parts in his other shows before he asked me to appear in Derek,” she says.
“I’ve been lucky that I’ve always done both acting and comedy, and I love what I do so none of it is arduous or a pain. But the work-life balance is something I always have to keep an eye on, and I’m getting better at saying no to some work.”
That means Godliman can spend more time at home with her husband and children in south London. She’s a homebody nowadays, she says. “When I was younger I went travelling and was out all the time and did a lot of partying, but now I want to be at home as much as I can. I miss the kids and try not to be away for more than a couple of nights.”
She did have to be away for a few weeks last year  to film Treadstone, a US television series based on the Jason Bourne films. She loved the experience.
“It was so out of my comfort zone,” she says, “but that was good. For a start I was playing an American, the first time I’d done that. It was a big, high-production-values, flashy US TV series. It was unlike anything else I have ever done.”
She adds drily: “Most parts I’ve played as an actress have involved a tabard, and here I was on set watching this amazing fight scene being put together. It was a like a dance – the choreography was extraordinary – and it was amazing being part of this world.
“I love acting because I get to work with other people, it’s storytelling and I can play a character I’ve never played before. But in a big Hollywood production like Treadstone you are a small cog in a very big machine. I had something like 20 recalls before I got the part and although I loved it, it made me grateful that I do stand-up as well.”
Stand-up brings different rewards, Godliman says, and she made her debut in the Royal Variety Show in December . “I enjoyed it. It’s a long day doing teching and so on but it’s fun. It’s always difficult to find some appropriate material, but I did some stuff about parenting because the Cambridges can relate to it. They seem nice people, it was a nice gig and it’s for a good charity.”
We get back to BOSH. “I’m bringing my kids up in the 21st century and we have to wrestle with social media and smart phones,” the comic says. “But I was brought up in the 20th century, when I was allowed to be bored, and kids now don’t get much opportunity for that. It feels now that you have to be engaging with your children all time, which is ludicrous.”
One of the ways she would like to engage more with her children, though, is camping, which they now think is boring. But Godliman loves it and is sad they have already outgrown it. “My parents used to take me and I suppose it’s in my bones,” she says. “I have a bizarre love of camping; it starts with concertina’d colanders and goes from there.”
Kerry Godliman’s new show BOSH reaches The Stand, Glasgow on Wednesday, 25th March.
The Glee Club Glasgow served up a slice of comedy gold last night at their eagerly awaited first birthday bash. An edible pair of The Big Yin’s ‘big banana boots’ took centre stage and proved to be the icing on the cake at the popular comedy club’s celebratory show.
Guests were able ‘to fill their boots’ with slices of the eye catching life-size birthday cake which was created by award-winning Scottish cake designer 3D cakes. Handcrafted from toffee sponge and airbrushed to depict detail, the comedy cake was the brainchild of The Glee team who voted Billy Connelly’s famous fruity booties their favourite Scottish comedy icon.
A stellar line-up of Scottish comics entertained the crowd throughout the evening, including the award winning Mark Nelson, the hilarious Christopher KC and Ashley Storrie and up and coming stars Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Shona Lawson . Freshly made food, drinks and a lively after party ensured that a fun-filled evening was had by all to mark the one year milestone.
Since opening its doors in early 2019, The Glee Club Glasgow has welcomed a raft of top comedians to its stage, including Sean Lock, Joel Dommett, Larry Dean, Janey Godley, Suzi Ruffell, Tom Stade, Fern Brady, Rosie Jones, Gary Meikle and Des Clarke. In addition to its popular weekend shows, the club has hosted a series of sell-out events such as book tours, drag shows and a hugely successful series of Christmas and Hogmanay comedy nights.
To further fly the flag for Glasgow’s thriving creative and entertainment industries, The Glee Club partnered with leading Scottish festivals throughout the year to deliver a series of unmissable events including Celtic Connections, Glasgow Film Festival and Glasgow Comedy Festival.
The Glee Founder Mark Tughan commented: “Billy Connelly has some pretty big boots to fill in terms of Scottish comedy, so what better way to celebrate our first year in the city than by paying tribute to him with our wonderfully banana’s cake.
We opened the club to showcase and support stand-up comedy in the city and we are thrilled that our first year has been such a success. Glaswegians are known for their humour, so the top notch acts that the club has attracted and sold out shows really is testament to this. Our team is incredibly excited to bring more must-see shows to the city and fly the flag for Scottish comedy’”.
The Glee Club Glasgow’s 400 seater interior, is theatre-style with great views to the round Glee stage, plus excellent lighting, acoustics and atmosphere. An extensive menu of delicious freshly made food and a great quality drinks offering enables guests to enjoy both an evening of entertainment and dining experience under one roof.
Prices: Friday night tickets £11 / students £8 / ticket + food £20, Saturday night tickets £17 / students £8 / ticket + pizza + drink £27
The Glee Club box office: 0871 472 0400 / email@example.com
She’s been dubbed the ‘godmother of Scottish comedy’ and numbers Billy Connolly among her fans. Now, Janey Godley is set to spread her appeal across the nation as this quintessentially Glaswegian comic takes the Soup Pot Tour over the border and down south. “There will be a different demographic politically at these shows, but remember Nicola Sturgeon gets it in the neck from me as well. I will have to speak slower and make sure that it’s not all about just hating the Tories, though that will be difficult. But by and large, people who come to stand-up are open-minded people, they tend not to be died-in-the-wool Brexiteers who hate the Scottish.”
This tour has Janey wielding a variety of talents, as she delivers the kind of forthright stand-up which has earned her a strong reputation on the comedy circuit and a loyal band of followers. But she will also be displaying her skills at improv, as she stands by a screen and narrates adlibbed voiceovers of people (many of whom are today’s crop of politicians), giving them a heavy Scottish accent and inventing a story, many of which involve making soup for the community.
“The soup pot is very universal: if you’re in Australia, America, Brazil, France Germany or Alaska, and someone dies or gets married, people will make soup. The soup pot is the hub of the community. When somebody died near us when I was a kid, somebody would make the big soup pot so all the visitors had something warm to drink and eat. It’s part of us all being in it together. Of course, that was before people discovered they were gluten free and worried about being allergic to lentils.”
Janey first discovered that she could develop this new strand of her career on the night of the Scottish Independence vote in 2014. “I first did the voiceovers live at the Wild Cabaret club in Glasgow where the big screens were up. When the news came through and it was all looking a bit bleak, we turned the volume down and I started talking over the top of people. The audience loved it and I realised this was something I could do really well.”
She then poked fun online at the likes of Theresa May, Ruth Davidson and Nicola Sturgeon, replacing their talk of policy and elections with chat about big Isa and her soup pots. A recent piece she did on Kim Kardashian (largely mocking her for walking backwards) also went down spectacularly well, while clips of supermodels, Pathé newsreels and Fanny Craddock (the original celebrity chef) are given the Godley treatment. “I started off doing it for me, really. I liked the fact that I could give those politicians a whole new background persona and the idea that they might have these ordinary conversations; I love the idea of that normalcy which cuts through all that bulls**t. The ones that are the hardest to do are of Katie Hopkins, because the audience just boo like they’re at a pantomime.”
Since the voiceovers took off, an unusual trend started which reminded Janey of the halcyon days of Spitting Image when politicians would tune in avidly on a Sunday night, desperate to see if they had been captured in wax and caricatured in song. “MPs will say ‘are you going to do me?’ I’d like to do some international ones; I do Trump but I want to do Australian and Canadian politicians. There’s a lot of fodder to go on.”
When she started performing comedy in the mid-90s, there were very few female acts kicking about, but Janey Godley has now become a standard bearer in Scotland for young women who might fancy a career in stand-up. “I did Have I Got News For You and I was the first working-class Scottish female comic to do that: the first and last. There are girls from Glasgow who saw comedy and it would be Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle, so they all thought ‘that’s not our job, that’s for Scottish men’. But when they see me and they see someone like Fern Brady, they think ‘yeah, that’s also a woman’s job.’”
Recently, Janey has ramped up her acting CV, appearing in Wild Rose (staring Jessie Buckley, Julie Walters and Sophie Okonedo) about a young woman trying to make her way in the world of Country music, and has written and directed a short film entitled The Last Mermaid. She’s also had a one-woman play run Off-Broadway, and will be on TV screens soon playing the lawyer of Martin Compston’s character in Traces, a crime drama from an original idea by Val McDermid.
But for now, she’s enjoying making people laugh all over the country with both her no-holds barred stand-up and the unique nature of these new voiceovers. “The most important thing is that this has never been done before, no other comic in the world is doing this. I’ve been doing stand-up for over 20 years but it took a Tory called Theresa to make me famous.” Mrs May might now be virtually out of the public eye, but the moment has surely arrived for Janey Godley to take centre stage.
Contributed by Brian Donaldson
Images: Murdo Macleod
Foil Arms and Hog will be heading to the King’s Theatre, Glasgow on Sunday, 23rd February 2020. Here they talk about their new show Swines.
Sean Finegan, as befits his status as the straight man in the Irish sketch group Foil Arms and Hog, is the spokesman for the trio off stage. It makes life easier for us to speak directly, he says, adding drily: “Otherwise I might say something witty and you’d attribute it to one of the other guys.”
We chat about their latest show, Swines, which is touring the UK after a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe, but first Finegan explains how the trio met and got their distinctive name.
Finegan (Foil), Conor McKenna (Arms) and Sean Flanagan (Hog) were studying at University College Dublin (reading architecture, engineering and genetics respectively) 12 years ago, when they met through their shared love of performing.
“We were friends through the drama society but it was Sean Flanagan writing a play based on Father Ted that led to us forming the group,” says Finegan. “He was Dougal, I was Bishop Brennan and Conor was Father Ted. We had permission to tour round Ireland from [Father Ted’s creators] Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, and when the play finished we decided we should do a sketch show together.”
And the memorable name for the trio came out of good-humoured banter. “We came up with loads of naff names that punned on the word ‘sketch’ and rejected them. And then we were at a party one night and we were slagging each other off and came up with them.
“I’m the straight man, so I’m the foil; Conor is all arms and legs and very clumsy on stage; and Sean always hogs the limelight and steals all the laughs. They’re roles that we very easily fall into on stage.”
Finegan admits that some of the sketches they wrote and performed back then “we wouldn’t get away with now, they were quite insulting to all sorts of people”, but that over the years the humour has become more sophisticated.
That’s probably down to their work ethic; they write separately and then meet almost daily to develop the ideas. “Ideas get torn to shreds in the process and then we jump on to the idea and add more jokes and develop them. It sometimes takes months to nail a sketch.” Do they ever argue? “Well there are three of us, so it usually works out as two-to-one. No one has ever stormed out, put it that way,” Finegan laughs.
Finegan recalls when the group started out. “In the UK there’s a big sketch comedy scene but in Ireland that doesn’t exist. In our early days a lot of people would see three guys come on stage looking like Boyzone or something and they’d be instantly against us. But performing on the same bill with stand-up comics, we learnt so much about audience interaction. As any stand-up comic will tell you, you need to engage with the audience quickly and get them on your side.
“So we learnt pretty quickly and our comedy has become a sort of weird hybrid of sketch and messing with the crowd.”
But Foil Arms and Hog’s audience interaction is not cruel or humiliating. “I hope we’re not,” says Finegan, “because the intention is to bring everyone on board as it can be terrifying for some people [to be picked on]. But we love doing it because you never know what the audience may do, and we get a bit of a buzz from it. It’s the element that makes every show unique.”
In their second year at the Fringe they saw Edinburgh Comedy Awards winner Dr Brown (clown performer Phil Burgers). “I think we had thought clowning was the ‘honk honk’ kind of thing but then we realised that it’s about going with the flow. A couple of years later we attended one of his courses and it’s one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. It was brilliant stuff.
“It helped us so much on stage, particularly when things go wrong, as we might get to a funnier place with those skills we learned.”
Foil Arms and Hog have a dedicated following that they have built up over 11 Edinburgh Fringe shows, and for the past six years have posted short films on YouTube – they have clocked up an astonishing one million hits and have nearly 950,000 followers on Facebook. They have a broad demographic and, as Finegan says: “When we look out into the audience and see people from eight to 80 it gives us such a buzz. We have people tell us after a show that their son or daughter has found us online and introduced them to our comedy, and they come to see us together. It’s great.”
Thanks to YouTube, the group’s reach is global – and sometimes unexpected, says Finegan. “We were worried that one recent sketch – about Irish people not really being able to speak Irish – may not necessarily appeal to non-Irish people. But then we got an email from a fan in Sri Lanka saying he loved it because, ‘We’re all forced to learn Tamil when we go to school, it’s exactly like this’.”
But Swines – like all Foil Arms and Hog’s live shows – doesn’t contain any sketches fans may have seen online. “Some people may think they’re going to see the YouTube videos performed live on stage, but absolutely not. We make a point of never performing the online videos live. What works online usually doesn’t work on stage. It’s a very different kind of comedy, and much more surreal live.”
They also have more songs in their shows now than when they started. “They crept in,” Finegan jokes. “My singing’s certainly improved – the lads were carrying me in the beginning – but Conor is a very good singer and Sean knows all about harmonies because he’s been in choirs and stuff. The songs help the flow of the show and we like doing them. Who knows, in 10 years’ time we may be topping the charts.”
Contributed by Veronica Lee
The song The Greatest Show with sparkle-clad Vegas show dancers, a tumbling routine and fire canons, is not quite what you expect as the intro to a comedy gig, but this isn’t any old comedy gig, this is the first night of a 2-date run at the 13000-seater Hydro Arena and Jack Whitehall’s new show for 2019, Stood Up.
It’s a testament to Whitehall’s skill and affability that apart from the dazzling intro and finale (which we’ll come to later) that this isn’t an evening of comedy on steroids, it’s just Whitehall telling stories in such an engaging way that he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. Such is his skill, that it’s all he needs. The act is tight throughout (there’s not a murmur of heckling) and Whitehall never wavers, never looses the thread, keeps the jokes coming and the audience firmly on his side and invested in what on earth is going to come next.
There’s the inevitable, but perfectly knowing schtick about how he’s just like you or I (he’s not) and the posho-references, but that’s what the audience comes for, that’s what he’s loved for.
There are surprises aplenty throughout that would be churlish to reveal to anyone attending the tour and an eye-popping seasonal spectacular to end the show, that cleverly ties into an anecdote from the first half.
He may not be everyone’s cup of Earl Grey, but it’s a masterclass in comedy performance that keeps the laughs coming from start to end.
Catch it on tour if you can.
Reviewed on 19/11/2019 Jack Whitehall continues touring throughout the UK.
Matthieu Delaporte and Alexandre de la Patellière’s 2010 play Le Prénom was a hit of such magnitude it spawned not only a big screen French version in 2012 but a German film incarnation in 2018. Jeremy Sam’s translation, What’s in a Name? has arrived in Glasgow and proves to be a class act from start to end.
It’s the present day in a trendy double height loft conversion in Peckham, teacher Elizabeth (Laura Patch) is throwing a dinner party for her brother Vincent (Joe Thomas), brash, flash and with more than a hint of a Thatcher-era, boy-made-good bravado; all three-piece-suit, slicked back hair and ill-concealed misogyny. Vincent and his partner Anna (Louise Marwood) are about to become parents, lecturer husband Peter (Bo Poraj) and childhood friend Carl (Alex Gaumond), a trombonist with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, round out the company.
The revelation by Vincent of the name he intends to call his expected son, turns tiny tensions into a torrent of tirades, as every petty resentment from the past thirty years surfaces. The accusations and recriminations fly, and some pretty big secrets are revealed.
What’s in a Name may be the typical upper-middle class intellectual, philosophical fare that the French typically love, but this fast, furious, and funny social comedy, is a welcome breath of fresh air. The witty, rapid-fire dialogue shines a light perfectly on a certain strata of bourgeois British society and the “pseudo intellectual pick and mix” of values they hold. It’s all enhanced by a knock-out cast who deliver the linguistic gymnastics with class and flair. A touch of class for the autumn theatre season.
Image: Piers Foley
Much-loved journalist and broadcaster Cat Harvey, has her finger firmly on the pulse of West of Scotland woman (and man) in her new comedy play Love Me Tinder.
Exploring the minefield of dating in the 21st Century, it follows the story of a group of Glaswegian workmates who decide to embark on an online adventure in internet romance. There’s career girl Fiona (Cat Harvey) forever single and looking for Mr. Absolutely Utterly Perfectly Right; Nicola (Michelle McManus) the eternal good-time girl who is ready to swap parties for nappies; Cathy (May Miller), married for 40 years to Willie, who has apparently ran away with a 28-year-old Polish yoga teacher; Ryan (Liam Dolan) unaware of his sexual orientation, unlike everyone who knows him; Davie (Andrew Agnew) who is so commitment-averse he’ll date anyone and everyone “from legal to still breathing” and Davie (Johnny Mac) really Cupid in disguise, currently living in Cumbernauld and working his magic from the side-lines.
Harvey has an ear for Glaswegian patter and the naturalistic dialogue certainly strikes a chord with this largely female, sold-out audience. The laughs are sustained from start to end, and it’s no small thanks to a knock-out cast. From local cabaret star May Miller, the epitome of a ‘wee Glasgow wummin’ to TV stalwarts Andrew Agnew and Liam Dolan to panto royalty Johnny Mac and Pop Idol winner and Scottish national treasure Michelle McManus, a woman with the most enviable natural comic timing (and of course, a fabulous voice), each is an absolute gem.
Mac gets the chance to demonstrate his natural comedic talents and his exceptional audience wrangling skills, honed from years as a panto star. His fourth wall breaking turn as Cupid/Danny is warm, good-natured and laugh out-loud funny. As is McManus’ turn as the gobby Nicola. She manages to get the audience in tears with just a look, particularly hysterical is her disgust at Polish yoga teacher Klaudia stealing her big karaoke number, (which in an absolute belter of a theatrical trick) turns out to be McManus’ real-life Pop Idol winning tune ‘All This Time’.
The show is peppered throughout with party hits (you can’t not let Miller and McManus demonstrate what made them famous in the first place) and there’s even a chance for the audience to get in on the act with a rousing rendition of ‘Sweet Caroline’.
The path of true love never does run smooth, and so it is here. To its credit there’s also a large dose of reality in the mix to temper the laughs. This is a relatable, realistic portrait of love and friendship in the 21st Century and it’s delivered with real heart and soul. Hopefully there’s more to come from the pen of Cat Harvey.
The king of the one-liner Milton Jones and star of Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo and Comedy Roadshow, is touring the country with a slew of local comedians in tow. Luckily for Lanarkshire, Jones and chums are stopping off in Hamilton for one night only.
Compered brilliantly by stand up and star of Scot Squad, Chris Forbes, this is a well-curated showcase that delivers a satisfying night of comedy to the packed crowd.
Unenviably, it’s down to Edinburgh-based Gareth Waugh to open the show. Waugh is a personable and polished comedian and his self-deprecating stories have enough relatable material to get the crowd nodding and laughing along. It must be said though that for anyone who has seen him in the last few years, much of the material has been culled from his past two Edinburgh Fringe show: granny’s mad childhood games, the teenage gang asking him to buy them a carry-out and his jogging exploits to name a few. There’s also a fair amount of awkwardly familiar stories to make you cringe in recognition. It’s funny enough, and it serves its purpose as a warm up for the acts to come, but there’s nothing new or particularly ground-breaking here.
Next up is the Santa Claus bearded and board shorts and t-shirt wearing veteran Graham Mackie. Mackie’s look may be benign and affable but his material is deceptively subversive, a combination that goes down well with the Hamilton crowd.
Second-to-top-billing falls to recent social media viral sensation Gary Meikle, whose rant on his daughter’s obsession with her eyebrows has struck a chord in these self-absorbed times. Meikle a single dad and youthful granddad at 40, delivers a knock-out selection of hugely relatable anecdotes that really do have the audience almost rolling in the aisles. What shines through is his love for his daughter and granddaughter, who provide rich material for the deft story-teller.
The wild-haired Jones is well worth the wait and the intellect behind the drolly delivered one-liners is sharp, sharp, sharp. Jones is well aware that some are so clever that they need a moment to land and his deft-touch with an audience allows this to happen.
This is really is a bumper evening of comedy, without a weak link on the bill. Each comedian is well worth seeing on their own and an even bigger treat altogether.