Imagine turning up to an ‘am-dram’ production of Macbeth at Cumbernauld theatre and finding out that Robert De Niro was doing a turn as the title character for the night. It’s just not that likely. However in stand-up comedy, the equivalent happens all the time.
Stand-up is one of the only professions in the world where the top touches the bottom with enjoyable regularity. You might go on stage at a new material night, say The Stand Comedy Club’s legendary Red Raw showcase, and find yourself sharing the stage with three people performing for the very first time followed by Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle. It is a wonderfully surreal and incredibly helpful aspect of the comedy world.
Not only do these occasions help newcomers learn from the very best, it is also serves as a timely reminder that, no matter who you are, you have to work hard at honing your material and that no-one is immune to an unforgiving audience if you don’t bring the funny. The Jerry Seinfeld documentary Comedian depicts this brilliantly. If you haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it.
I have been fortunate enough to share the bill with many of the UK’s best stand-up comedians, from Michael McIntyre to Stewart Lee. Each time it has helped inspire me to work harder. It has also, in the past, made me momentarily and delusionally entertain the notion that I was worthy to be in their illustrious company.
But comedy has a great way of grounding you, by every so often throwing up a gig that makes you question why you bother at all. The perfect example of this for me came in December 2012. I had been delighted to be one of the support acts for Kevin Bridges’ 2012 national tour. By the end of it, I felt like I was untouchable. I had entertained crowds of thousands and felt cool by association. Surely fame and fortune beckoned!?
When the tour finished, my next regular gig was 3 days later. I died on my arse in a pub in Stirling in front of 23 people. Back to earth with a gigantic thud and timely reminder that I still had a lot of work to do! Although more recently I have been lucky enough to enjoy a couple of TV roles (BBC's Scot Squad & How Do I Get Up There?), live stand-up has remained my first love and I’ve been working hard on some new material for this Glasgow International Comedy Festival show with my good friend and fellow comic Davey Connor.
We might not be in the same league as Boyle and Bridges (few are) but I can guarantee you’ll have a good laugh in the company of two Glasgow comedians trying to work their way from the bottom to the top - or, at the very least, somewhere near the middle...
Chris Forbes & Davey Connor Stand Up is at Blackfriars Basement, Saturday 28 March at 8:30pm - book your tickets online or call our box office on 0844 873 7353. Two full stand-up shows for the price of one!