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entertainers in its Spanish hotels. is there not a danger that the whole new wave of comedy is becoming just a mite cosy‘.’ We may not have sunk to the career-minded state of some US comedians who‘ll spend six months learning how to use a microphone stand before they see their first audience. but what checks are there to ensure that our own entertainers continue to challenge and not merely to flatter?

The biggest buzz of excitement amongst the Funny Farm just now is over the (‘omic ('lub‘s new improvisation nights It‘s not that they all want to be as smug as John Sessions. but that they've presented themselves with a challenging opportunity to test and develop their comic skills. This can only be good for the l-l-strong collective. who by their own admission are still relatively inexperienced in the stand-up field.

‘I’m going to have to go out there and do accents and different characters and more!‘ laughs (iordon Robertson. ‘Quite frankly. I'm a

novice as far as moving is concerned."

But the aim of the Funny Farm is to nurture more than simply locomotion amongst its members. lts home base at The (‘omic (‘lub already allows for the testing out of short sets of untried. possibly experimental material. and the co-operative nature of the group helps members to develop. debate and learn from each other‘s work. That is important for comics like (‘laire llemphill who. in conjunction with the Farm‘s four other female members. Kate Donnelly. May .\le(‘readic. Libby MacArthur and Louise (ioodall. is able to explore the social restrictions upon women comedians.

'lt‘s significant that all ofthe women in the Farm can do

monologues.’ says Hemphill. 'but we loathe them. We like to work _in pairs and dosketches. It's to dowith sexuality. Women find it difficult unless they take the approach of Bette Middler. or Lynn Ferguson of The Alexander Sisters. which is so over-tbe-top that it’s not threatening. I could no sooner go out and spray guys‘ groins than I could climb Mount Everest. It just wouldnae be me. But if you‘re sexy and funny. then that’s too much power. If I wear a daft wig. put on a pair of trousers. cover up anything to do with being sexual. that works

fine. Male comedians don’t have to hand in their sexuality like that.‘

The subject is massive ('I'heJoke's On Us by Marina Banks and Amanda Swift is recommended reading). but recognising the issues—— the aggression and control of performance is a vital step in the development of new styles and approaches to comedy. The Funny Farm is not alone in a desire to find fresh forms. It's a shame that since the demise of'l‘he Merry Mac Fun Show and Victor and Barry. Scotland has suffered a dearth of new musical comedy. but otherwise at the Kitkat (‘lub they‘re reviving

pre-war Berlin cabaret. the (‘avern (‘omics are making a speciality out of I jugglingandstreetentertainment. i and the itinerent Wilde and Natt emerge from time to time with a distinctly theatrical line of mirth-making. It‘s a fine basis for exciting comedy to come. All we I need now is a firm circuit outwith the i cities to let it flourish. ' Challenging? Controversial? My name's Mark Fisher. Goodnight.

Farm and many other entertainers at

a per/brmancefor Comic Relief. ; Pavilion. Glasgow. Sun 1/ Mar.

7. 30pm. [6 (£4.50). STV's Funny Farm series begins on Thurs I 5 Mar. 10.35pm. See (‘abaret listings for details of other gigs.

l You can catch most of The Funny |

‘Ouite frankly I’m a novice as far as moving is concerned.’ Gordon Robertson.

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