Tag Archives: Comedy

INTERVIEW: Scottish comedy legend Janey Godley

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

NEWS: WHYTE & MACKAY GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2020 PROGRAMME

• WMGICF turns eighteen in style with over 500 shows at 60 venues and over 140,000 tickets on sale

• Comedy legends Steve Martin and Martin Short usher in the festival with a curtain-raising performance at the SSE Hydro

• Jimmy Carr, Stewart Lee, Arabella Weir, Frankie Boyle, Jerry Sadowitz, Trevor Noah plus many more set to appear.

 

The Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival (GICF) reveals its full programme, as this hugely popular event in the city’s cultural calendar returns 12 – 29 March 2020. 60 venues across Glasgow are taking part – the most ever in the festival’s history.

 

The eighteen-day comedy extravaganza features international stars Trevor Noah, Steve Martin and Martin Short at the SSE Hydro and performances from household names including Jimmy Carr, John Shuttleworth, Dane Baptiste, Arabella Weir, Stewart Lee and Fascinating Aida.

 

It’s a bumper year for home grown talent with Janey Godley, Susie McCabe, Jim Smith and Jerry Sadowitz all gracing the stage of the King’s Theatre. Other top Scottish acts appearing across the festival include Rob Florence and Iain Connell in ‘Uncles’ at the Tramway, Craig Hill, Phil Differ, Fern Brady and Alan Bissett at Oran Mor, Frankie Boyle at the Stand, Elaine C Smith at Oran Mor, Phil Kay at Blackfriars, Darren Connell at The Stand, and Des Clarke at the Garage.

 

Comedy fans on the look out for critically acclaimed stand up can catch rising stars at a series of specially programmed venue takeovers. At the Old Hairdressers, Berk’s Nest present a line up including Desiree Burch, Jordan Brookes, Mawaan Rizwan, Sophie Duker; and Gilded Balloon are bringing Jayde Adams, Micky Overman and more. ARG are popping up in Blue Arrow and the Hug & Pint with a line up that features Evelyn Mok, Mat Ewins, Adam Hess and Annie McGrath. Local cult favourites CHUNKS descend on the State Bar promising Richard Brown, Planet Caramel, David Callaghan, and a gender-swapped live read of the screenplay to the 1995 Paul Verhoeven film Showgirls.

 

As well as stand up shows in some of the city’s biggest venues and intimate gigs in pubs, the Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival features plays, sketches, improv, film and comedy for kids. This year’s theatre line up includes a brand new play from Chris McQueer at the Tron, Jason Manford in whodunnit Curtains at the King’s, and A Play, A Pie and A Pint at Oran Mor. Families can head to the Tall Ship, the Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre, and The Stand to catch laughs for little ones.

 

Other shows offering something a little bit unusual include a dog-friendly comedy club at Drygate, Hoppy Days beer tasting with comedy, Ray Bradshaw signing his show in BSL live as he performs, a drag parody of First Wives Club, and a special free show of dementia-friendly comedy at the Fred Paton Day Care Centre.

 

Events take place every day throughout the festival and tickets for all shows are on sale now, with some performances already selling out.

 

Sarah Watson, Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival Director, said: “We’re so excited to launch GICF 2020 with our biggest and most international programme to date. To have a comedy icon like Steve Martin performing at the event with Martin Short is just amazing, but to also feature Trevor Noah in the same year – well it’s just a dream come true.  They’ll set the tone for the festival’s eighteenth year as we welcome performers from all over the world, while also shining a spotlight on all the incredible Scottish talent that can be found in Glasgow in March.”

 

Ruairi Perry, Head of Blended Whisky Brands at Whyte & Mackay, said: “For the 3rd year running it is an absolute pleasure to partner with the Glasgow International Comedy Festival! We’ve had a very busy year as a brand, having celebrated our 175th year by launching our new look smoother bottle and also a ‘lighter spirit drink’ at 21.5% ABV – ideal for those looking for a brilliant tasting spirit but with lower alcohol.

 

There’s nothing light about the programme for this year’s festival – it’s packed again with top class acts from Scotland and around the world. It is amazing to see record number of venues involved across the city in 2020 with a fantastic blend of new talent and household favourites on offer. As a whisky born and bred in Glasgow, we are very proud that festival goers will be enjoying a dram or 2 of Whyte & Mackay whilst enjoying a great laugh & night out. Slàinte!”

 

Councillor David McDonald, Depute Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow Life, said: “Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival is always a keenly anticipated highlight of the city’s cultural calendar and this year the programme is guaranteed to be hugely popular. Glasgow has produced some of the finest comedians who have ever taken to the stage and has welcomed some legendary performers and this year the Whyte & Mackay Glasgow International Comedy Festival ensures that legacy continues.”

 

Keep up to date with all the latest news by registering at glasgowcomedyfestival.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter @glasgowcomedy.

 

 

INTERVIEW: Foil Arms & Hog

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

 

WHAT’S ON MARCH: Trevor Noah’s tour is heading to Glasgow

Award-winning comedian Trevor Noah is bringing his Loud & Clear tour to the UK in 2020. The show will visit Glasgow on Friday, 20 March at the SSE Hydro.

The most successful comedian in Africa, and host of the Emmy® award-winning The Daily Show, Trevor Noah has sold out shows over five continents and has written, produced and starred in eight comedy specials.

Don’t miss Trevor live in the UK.

In 2018, The Daily Show won a GLAAD award for Outstanding Talk Episode, and received nominations for a Writers Guild Award (Comedy/Variety Series) as well as two NAACP Image Awards, for Outstanding Talk Series and Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information Show. Noah also won Best Host at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards, as well as a 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series for his hosting role on The Daily Show – Between The Scenes.

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah received three 2018 Primetime Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Variety Talk Series, Outstanding Interactive Program and Outstanding Short Form Variety Series. Trevor recently received the 2019 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, as well as nominations for Outstanding Talk Series, Outstanding Variety Show, and Outstanding Host in a Talk or News/Information Show.

Born in South Africa to a black South African mother and a white European father, Noah has hosted numerous television shows including South Africa’s music, television and film awards. In April 2018, Noah launched The Trevor Noah Foundation, a youth development initiative that enhances youth preparedness for higher education or entry into the workforce. Noah’s vision is a South Africa that advances because each generation builds and must grow beyond its predecessor. Through a partnership with Microsoft, the foundation is able to provide under-resourced schools with the opportunity to use technology as a tool to enhance the learning experience, as well as increase digital literacy beyond the classroom.

TICKETS

Glasgow – www.thessehydro.com

www.trevornoah.com

TWITTER: @Trevornoah

REVIEW: Jack Whitehall Stood Up – SSE Hydro Arena, Glasgow

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.

 

REVIEW: What’s in a Name – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

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

Originally published at The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Love Me Tinder – The Town House, Hamilton

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.

REVIEW: Milton Jones and Chums – The Town House, Hamilton

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.

Chris Forbes

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.

Gareth Waugh

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.

Graham Mackie

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.

Gary Meikle

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.

Milton Jones

NEWS: NEW COMEDY & MUSIC VENUE IN GLASGOW

GLEE CLUB COMES TO GLASGOW

Comedy in Glasgow has a rich history, and Glee Club are bringing their newest venue to the city.

Every week they will be bringing their own brand of comedy shows on a Friday and Saturday night. They will also play host to some of the best touring comedians. Over the years they have brought the biggest names to their venues including Michael McIntyre, Kevin Bridges, Sarah Millican, John Bishop, Joe Lycett and many more.

The launch weekend will be Fri 1st & Sat 2nd February 2019. The line up will feature Gary Little, Geoff Norcott, Jay Lafferty and a very special guest. Tickets are on sale now.

Glee Club Glasgow

11 Renfrew Street, Glasgow, G2 3AB

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