Glasgow is generally regarded as a city where there’s lots to do. If consumerism floats your boat, there’s plenty of shopping to be done. If you’re into live music, few cities can top it. Even if you’re a fan of anthropology, a quick visit to Sauchiehall Street on a Saturday night will give you all the notes on the base elements of human interaction you’ll ever need.
Another thing Glasgow has always been good for, of course, is comedy. As well as producing some of the most notable stand-up comedians of the last few decades, it boasts a pleasantly thriving live comedy scene. Everything is there – from a purpose built comedy club, to hidden basement bars, to large theatres and enormo-domes, thus catering for all tastes – you can see the big names of just now, or nip into a smaller venue and potentially catch the big names of the future.
No surprise, then, that Glasgow’s annual International Comedy Festival has, since its inception, gone from strength to strength. Now in its thirteenth year, the festival has consistently maintained a perfect balance of shows by familiar television faces and, vitally, a platform for the emergent comedy talent in the city.
I’m proud to be able to say I’ve been involved with the festival every year since its very first one... being involved in a variety of shows from solo pieces to sketch shows and pub quizzes. I knew the festival was going to be something special from that first year, when a show I was performing in (with my dad and little brother, no less), was not only sold out in a big venue but there was rows of people sitting on the floor who couldn’t get a seat but decided to pay in anyway. It was an incredible feeling, and from that year on, I (like many Glasgow based comedians and performers) get rather excited at this time of year, as the run up to another GICF commences.
This year I’m performing a solo show again, and delighted that it is in one of my favourite venues in the city – Yesbar, on Drury Street. The basement of Yesbar is, to me, what stand-up comedy is all about. Intimate and relaxed, where the laughter from downstairs melds with the thrum of activity from upstairs. You can see the whites of the audience’s eyes, but they are far from being your enemy.
My show this year is called You Are Now About to Witness the Strength of Street Knowledge, which as I discovered, is almost fucking impossible to fit on a poster. But I did it. The phrase itself is the opening line of NWA’s seminal album ‘Straight Outta Compton.’ The juxtaposition amused me, given that I’m a skinny white boy who, rather than hailing from the tough streets of South Central Los Angeles, is from a grey cul-de-sac in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. Pop down and say hello. Or you could just go shopping instead I suppose.