Ann Donald watches Parrot on his leather-clad ascent to the comedy big- time and takes in a couple of Glasgow stand—up clubs.
The leather trousers, the stubble and the shiny shirt. Parrot is sporting the apparel ofevery ‘uncompromising‘ and potential premier-league comedian in- waiting. The conspicuous tell-tale signs
are. conﬁrmed when he. makes his entrance onto the Tron stage heralded
by a snatch of mental rawk‘n’roii music.
Surprisingly for a comedian not exactly renowned for his timorous Andy Pandy approach to comedy. Parrot is looking a tad nervous this evening. The respite from his normal bull-dog manner is understandable given that this is only his third date in the No More Mr Nice Guy Tour. A tour aimed at exposing his new and stronger material to a wider audience as well as establishing him as a serious comedy contender.
Fifteen minutes into the set and the pace is frenetic. Topics are being sunk as fast as pints at a rugby club drinking session and the ‘fuckin’ ayes’ and
excessive Parrot chin-rubbing are peppering every tightly-worked shaggy dog story at a dizzying rate. Material range. from the ‘safe‘ the lunacy of tourists visiting the Leaning Tower of Pisa — to the ‘risque‘ — the etiquette of borrowing a vibrator at parties — to the differences between the sexes — see under pain of childbirth and prolapses. Like another hairy man before him. Parrot possesses the same full—steam ahead, ECT. rollercoaster enthusiasm and talented acting ability as Billy Connolly. Both share the same ability to disrnember a perfectly ordinary human idiosyncrasy and catapult it into the realms of the hilariously crazed. Parrot does have an unswerving allegiance to the crude and the carnal.
seizing on those embarrassing social niceties like an unfettered pit-bull and running rabid with them. At times this approach works and at others you feel the ground has been well—trodan by generations of sub-Bernard Mannings before him.
Parrot is deiinitely not breaking down any doors in terms of innovation. but there is an appreciative audience for his lirebrand. no-mcssing lads humour that will assure his leather—clad ascent out of the tiny clubs and into the theatres.
From the heady heights of fame. fortune and hilarity at the Tron we descend to one of the rrrnpteen comedy clubs that have sprouted up in Glasgow recently. Crackers Comedy Club in the Southside is only in its third week but
has already attracted a healthy crowd. ()ur delirioust daft comperes — The Three Men Brothers Trio Troupe — may sound like a Bulgarian folk group but are in fact a duo who dispense the type of zinging. musical. witty repartee that the likes of Martha McBriar would trade her teeth for.
Making a return to the circuit after a short break. McBriar‘s first-night nerves unfortunately didn't enhance a tentative delivery and tired—as-an-old- deg material. Next up is the man at the blunt edge of comedy ~ Raymond Mearns. Armed with his copy of The Sun. Mearns makes the term ‘Luddite‘ look positively avant-garde with his slock~in trade sexist. toe-sucking. blow-job jokes that have already been through the wringer a million times.
Like a mirage in the desert of comedy. Fred MacAulay appeared to relieve an audience in desperate need of comic resuscitation. 'l‘he affable Mac/\ulay didn‘t let rrs down with his rollicking, inventive. on-the-nose observations of American tourists. pit-bulls on the tube and family holidays in Orlando. Give this man six months and he and Parrot will be sparring for the same mainstream stages.
One ﬁnal word of warning: Beware the phantom-billed comedy night at Cottiers featuring Lurkin-Barkin! Two grown men parading as Mr Gnome meets Mr Beverly Hillbilly, perched on a window ledge with fishing rods. constitutes a distraction rather than attraction to late-night drinking.
Farm! was seen (I! The Trim Theatre. mm on tour: Crackers C(mied)’ Club at The I’m/reringuy is lie/(1 every fortnight on a Monday evening. Cir/[for details. ()4! 423 [088.
SEEM- DESPERATE .rounrrEv
Seen at GSAMD, Glasgow. On tour. Desperate Journey begins in the Highlands with a iamin oi iour celebrating a short-lived serenity. The bleak horror oi the Clearances iollows and, with lightly ilowlng limbs, the quartet oi dancers swoop and sail to Glasgow and then to Canada to hopes oi a new llie.
Andy Howitt’s choreography continues contemporary dance, T’ai Chi Chu'an and Capoeira martial-art style movement, and he and his three dancers perionn with commitment and stamina. The lyrical coniiguratlons oi interweaving hands, gentle slides and occasional adept llits are mainly abstract, with only a iew everyday gestures contributing to what little discernabie narrative there is.
The able dancers are not experienced actors and create unconvincing characters. Only the beautiiui singing oi Christine Primrose, in Gaelic, adds a depth oi leellng to this production, which is short on the taut dramatic structure that contributed to the success oi TAG’s earlier Sunset Song.
Alasdair Nicholson's score is iull oi dramatic mood swings and contrasts tellineg with the dance which lacks rhythmic variation. The imaginative costumes and set oi Kate Borthwlck help the narrative, but the hats and white lycra oi the iinal section are simply bizarre. (Tamsln Grainger).
Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat 21 May. Transiers to Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.
'it seems you can always ensnare an
audience with an adaptation oi a perennially-trendy contemporary novel. Benchtours were running rings round the punters with their production oi Iain Banks’ scut-and- paste oddity The Bridge. The Citizens’ had a commercially and artistically successiul go at Banks' Wasp Factory: now they extract non-stop dramatic mileage irom Irvine Welsh’s sordid, squeamish account oi sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll in the parts oi Edinburgh that aren’t the Castle, Princes Street or the High Street.
Polntedly enough, the rock ’n’ roll is lilrvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ with the needle stuck, Its sheer cacophonous volume heralding the
chaos to ioliow. The sex is soulless or silly. The drugs are ail-encompassing. A couple oi characters shoot up by candlelight, another provides a blow- by-blow commentary, precise and evocative enough to make the ilesh crawl. In case you don’t squirm enough the first time, they repeat the grim circus later. The whole is gripping, superb theatre.
The best bits, in a production so stuiied with best bits that they throw in the odd merely quite good bit to vary the tone, are Ewen Bremner’s monologues. For a clapped-out junkie, his character Mark has an eloquent command oi the raconteur’s art. it you’re the sort who can’t hear words on a page as sounds in your ear, Bremner will have you immersed irom the off, investing Welsh’s scuuily poetic catalogue oi social embarrassments, priceless childhood memories and tragi-iarcical anecdotes with the wit and credibility oi a natural yarn-spinner.
You may know nothing oi this urban underbelly, but by the time you’re through with Trainspotting you know these people live in the real world, not
it episode oi Taggart. (Fiona
Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sun 22 May.
And the annual Jilted John Award ior Funniest Guitar Solo goes to Jimmy Chisholm (and his soundman). The Kurt
Cobain Prize ior Funniest Death (Cornilakes Category) goes to Deirdre Davis. And the Basil Fawity Don’t- Mention-the-War Trophy for Heel- Clicking goes to Forbes Masson.
The Dumbstruck accolades mount up as it gathers ail-important points in the Shrewdest Comedy Casting category and vital marks ior Feel- Good Silliness.
David Kane’s comedy, it must be said, will not change your liie. A iriend tried to draw a connection between the piay’s bodies beneath the iloorboards and recent revelations in Gloucester, but there is nothing so weightily topical about Dumbstruck. You could argue, it you were trying, that it is a comment on the dull reality behind the sham oi stardom, but you’d be a lot closer to the mark it you said it was a good-time knees-up ior anyone who’s ever ielt like laughing at a iuneral.
Brash, irreverent, iast-paced, with excellently integrated songs, Michael Boyd’s production is itching to get onto the main-house stages he hopes to tour it to next year. He’s certainly got a cast capable oi playing to the big theatres and he deiinitely produces chuckles enough to keep anyone amused, but I wonder whether he’s drawing out all the big laughs, the ones that uniiy a whole audience. It the company came through those doors even iaster, it every line got rattled out without pause ior breath, ii the audience got no time to notice the play’s iarce mechanics, then a highly enloyable chuckieiest would turn into a truly unmissable show. (Mark Fisher)
58 The List 20 May—2 June 1994