With the gags flying and booze swilling, Jay Richardson proposes a toast to the comics who raised the bar during the GLASGOW INTERNATIONAL COMEDY FESTIVAL. But for messrs Sidebottom and Vegas, it’s time gentlemen please.

be best thing about alcohol. apart from numbing

the horrible pain of reality. is the way it brings

people together. While Mad Mel does his bit for Jewish-Catholic relations. linglish comics. wary of the spectre of Brave/lean. know the way to a Scottish audience‘s heart is not a spear in the side or nail in the palms. but through the liver and via the gullet.

So in the church—cum-pub of the (‘ottier Theatre. Kent comic Mark Steel (0000 ) qualified his admiration for Stirling’s William Wallace monument by recalling how he once made off with the local boozer‘s raffle prize. Ripping the piss from every corner of the British isles. his clinical wit and assured eye for regional idiocy had his crowd tickled pinko. his whip-smart socialism laying all the world‘s fattlts at the door and dog flap of those holy fools Bush and Blair.

A rather different barrel of laughs came from Al Murray to... ) at the Academy. A masterclass in bilious bigotry. the Pub Landlord matched taunts of Bannockburn with (‘ulloden ‘it's not the heats. it‘s the final that counts‘ and gave a tour-de-force tour with an inflatable globe through the blinkers of British imperial history. A great prop for crowd-baiting. Jonny Wilkinson impressions. the ball seems less clever post— Six Nations. but at least served to mock a watching Ally McCoist. ‘A chimpanzee could do your job.’ he barracked. flinging bananas in the ex-striker's direction. Also enjoying the landlord's hospitality was McC‘oist‘s mate Fred MacAuIay (00. ). whose own show at the Tron touched on Indian call centres and stttck a tongue out to Maori culture. bttt for the tnost part was a (‘aledonian perspective on getting pished. swearing. and falling down.

()xbridge—educated. former private schoolmarm Natalie Haynes (0000 ) gave a show at the Stand which. by contrast. did little to promote drink aside frotn some winning references to that old soak Dick Van l)yke

68 THE LIST 1:") Apr .7004


on rollerskates in Diagnosis Mun/er. coupled with some murderous thoughts on driving close to children. But she's doing her hit for the union. still swooning over her ‘lovely Scottish boy’ who's not. incidentally. the pupil she once seduced for a love that dare ttot speak its algebra answers. but someone she met two liringes back and whose midget family she constantly offends. Breezier titan a cranberry-based beverage. crucller than a Molotov cocktail. she's the crime of Miss Jean Brodie.

No consumption required to leave you feeling dazed and confttsed about Frank Sidebottom (00 l and his Happy Mondays llacienda Ha Ha Ha at the Vault. I‘ans familiar with the papicr-mached entertainer's Madchester heyday seemed happy enough. but punters with only vague experience of his endearineg crap lireddie Mercury and lilvis impersonations to the samba beep of a kid’s keyboard were left nonplussed. Two equally weak renditions of ‘I Should Be so Lucky" do not an act make.

But for dying on his almighty arse. nothing will ever eclipse the spectacular implosion of Johnny Vegas loo ) as the Academy crumbled arottnd him. With electrics fttsing all night. Vegas bellowed like a wounded animal slowly expiring under intermittent headlights. his drunken threads failing to pull together as he rambled and raged into increasing incoherence. Utterly horrifying. totally compelling. howls of laughter matched by derision and blank stares. he just would not go down. and won the majority with admiration for his big elephant balls. crashing and bttrning through semi-naked cabaret versions of ‘Atnerican Pie and 'New York. New York‘. Watching him ape his impromptu choir in a chorus line of tnooning. you could only reflect how (iibson caught the Scottish reception for Iinglish invaders after all.

Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs until Sat 3 Apr. See listings for details.



What's new in funny town

Supporting innovation

DID YOU SIT AT A SHOW during the Glasgow International Comedy Festival and think, ‘jeez, I could do better than that’? Well, now’s the time to put your mouth where those thoughts are and give Glasgow’s Ideas Factory people a call, if you want to see your comedic vision on telly. During the month of April, they will be conducting a series of workshops for would-be comedy writers, directors and performers with the ultimate aim of getting a three-minute short on Channel 4 sometime soon. Stalwarts of the Glasgow stand-up scene Raymond Mearns and Susan Morrison will be on hand to offer advice about submitting ideas while the scheme’s backer Stuart Cosgrove (pictured) insists that ‘Scotland has a great track record of producing innovative, ground-breaking comedy, and Glasgow has often been at the centre of that.’ For more information on Ideas Factory, call 0141 568 7118 or email kathy.dogtoothmedia@research centre.co.uk.

AT 3W 6". NORTH AMERICAN funny lady Tanyalee Davis gives a new meaning to stand-up. Dubbed the Ferrari of comedy ('she's classy. top quality. low to the grOund and kind of racy'). Ms Davis is set to come to the UK at the end of April for a series of gigs including a stop- off in these parts.

OF SOMEWHAT MORE substantial stature is Bill Bailey, even if his character tends to be worn down to a nub by Black Books’ bullying boss Bernard Black. After successfully proving himself to be a dead serious actor at last year’s Fringe in 12 Angry Men, hairy Bailey is back on more familiar territory with his always excellent stand-up show juggernauting into Glasgow for a Pavilion gig on 9 July.