Tag Archives: Glasgow International Comedy Festival

INTERVIEW: Susie McCabe coming to the King’s this month

Susie McCabe needed to have a strong word with herself as she set out on writing her new show, Born Believer. This rising star of the UK stand-up scene, who has supported the likes of Jason Manford, Zoe Lyons and Stewart Francis along the way and has been the fastest-selling act at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival for three years in succession, is not a natural optimist. But she was determined to prove that she could change her disposition from cynical to positive.

“It’s very difficult when you’ve spent 40 years living in the west coast of Scotland because optimism does not come naturally to us,” Susie insists. “I did a show before called There Is More To Life Than Happiness which asked whether happiness is over-rated; I think there is an element of that in the Scottish psyche. I’m going to try and be positive, though it’s going to be a struggle. The British in general are pretty miserable. I spent two months in Australia and they’re so happy. The world is upside down just now, but this show is about why I think that everything is going to be alright.”

While Susie has somehow managed to convince herself that ultimately things will turn out just fine, she still feels for a certain group of people who have been stuck with a mess that’s been landed in their laps. “We need to apologise to millennials because we made this mess and they’re our children. Maybe they’ll forgive us? But then I see their fashion and I think they probably can’t be trusted anyway.”

While Susie is reaching for as many positive aspects about modern life as she can, she has found it almost impossible to nail down anything good to say about the B word. “I’ve written a show’s worth of material about Brexit, about the silliness of it, about how we got to that point, and then the absolute shambles of it. But because it changes almost every day, I could no longer find a way of doing it. I try to avoid it now because you can’t pin it down and anything you do pin down is purely historic and so anything you’ve written is inconsequential.”

Susie McCabe has joined the ranks of those people who found themselves on an all-too safe and comfortable career path, but who had eventually realised that they needed to do something else with their life. That something else for many has been comedy, with the likes of Frank Skinner, John Bishop, Micky Flanagan and Jimmy Carr among those who became successful stand-ups later in life. For Susie, her decision to try comedy came about after a stark realisation.

“I only really did this for a dare,” she recalls. “My mate and I were sat at my house after a curry and a few drinks. I was 30 and one of our mates had just been diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. We both agreed that you just don’t know how lucky you are or know what’s around the corner.” Susie’s pal suggested that they both do something to scare themselves and after insisting that she would not be jumping out of a plane, a stand-up comedy course was mentioned.

“It all spiralled from there. It was 18 months before I got my first ever gig at The Stand and I only got it because Janey Godley sent an email saying ‘would you please book this lassie?’ And from that I was getting on weekend bills which then grew to headlining nights.”

Now almost a decade on from that first life-changing discussion, Susie has no regrets having seen her career move ever upwards to the point where she has supported some top household names, played festivals in Australia, and is embarking on this new solo tour. She has seen the levels of fame attained by other comics and has a fairly solid idea of what she wants from comedy.

“My ultimate goal is to have a career where I can still walk down the street without wearing a baseball hat and a set of headphones. I’d like to play theatres. I supported Jason Manford at His Majesty’s in Aberdeen and supported Stewart Francis at many a gig and they were brilliant shows. I would like some TV to build up my profile, to tour the country and Europe, and have that nice life where you are still be able to walk your dog in the park.”

For now, Susie feels a strong responsibility towards her audience and knows her job description inside out. “People sit in the house five or six nights a week and they come out to have a good time. We’re just going to have a laugh.”

Susie McCabe  BORN BELIEVER, Saturday, 28th March at the King’s Theatre.

Brian Donaldson

WHAT’S ON GLASGOW: Sam Serrano the 20-year-old rising star of comedy comes to Glasgow

Sam Serrano is one of the most exciting new acts on the comedy circuit. After coming second in Great Yorkshire Fringe Comedian Of The Year, being a finalist in Leciester Square New Comedian Of The Year 2019, and a runner-up in Comedy Bloomers LGBT Comedian Of The Year 2019, Serrano is expected to be the next big thing is stand up comedy.

BOYish is Serrano’s debut show all about learning to love yourself despite your differences. It has already had successful runs in Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool, and Leicester with many more dates being added. In the show, Serrano talks about having learning difficulties, having mental health issues, being bisexual, and being young through their well written and well-delivered routines that captivate audiences. Also, Serrano has shown themself to be a master of crowd work with fantastic off the cuff lines, improvisations, and being able to riff on whatever the room throughs at them.

Sam’s Glasgow show will take place on the 21st March at 2 pm at Dram! As part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival.

Tickets are £5

Ticket link: https://www.ents24.com/glasgow-events/dram/sam-serrano/5864287

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

 

REVIEW: Star Stricken Double Bill – CCA, Glasgow

Presented as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, Star Stricken a double bill of new comedy writing by Karen Barclay and Tom Brogan is certainly a bill of contrasts.

First up, Emily Entwistle by Karen Barclay pitches us headlong into the world of big business: a crisis has happened in an unnamed factory and corporate business solutions expert Elfrida (Frankie McEachen) is sent to sort the damage, with of course, less than successful results.

Heavy on the corporate speak (which considering the audience reaction was not a world we are as familiar with as the writer) and light on storyline and laughs, Barclay’s piece lacked cohesion and smacked a little of self-indulgence from the choice of heroines the play takes its name from to the I’m clever than you attitude which the writer seemed keen to demonstrate throughout. What did shine through was the talent of the actors, in particular Johanna Harper as Margo who deftly handled the machine-gun delivery of the complex dialogue, managing to raise what laughs there were to be had.

In contrast Tom Brogan‘s Good Times Never Seemed So Good is a sparkling little gem of a relationship tale set against the backdrop of the tribute act circuit.

Long-time loser with a big heart Mark (Paul Kozinski) has tried his hand at every daft scheme he can think of to make a living and girlfriend Laura is getting heartily sick of it: so she issues an ultimatum to pick something and stick with it, that something turns out to be a Neil Diamond tribute act. Despite no resemblance to the man in question and certainly filling the costumes slightly differently to Mr.Diamond, Mark soldiers on, climbing the ladder of success one slippery rung at a time. Just when he thinks it’s going to happen the ever-elusive big break remains out of reach. But what price fame? Is it worth losing the love of his life for?

Choc-full of laughs from start to finish this is a heart-warming little charmer. The references spot on the mark, completely relatable and met with roars of approval from the packed audience.

Ripe for TV adaptation hopefully it will have a life beyond the Comedy Festival and Brogan is certainly a name to watch for in the comedy writing world. A wee Scottish comedy gem.