Craig Hill

Craig Hill

Camp comedian Craig Hill had hs first public success at the age of ten when he won a talent contest in his native East Kilbride, impersonating Cleo Laine. He never looked back, going on to enter dance contests, write songs, sing in local bands - and eventually train as a hairdresser.

In 1991 Craig moved to Edinburgh to study drama at Queen Margaret College, and after he graduated he worked in Theatre In Education and pantomimes. His first comedy slot came when a friend secretly booked him in for an open spot in 1998.

His Edinburgh Fringe comedy debut in 1999, as part of Scottish triple bill Three Weird Beards at the Gilded Balloon and performed his first solo show, Craig Hill’s Alive With The Sound Of Music, the following year. He has been a regular performer at the Fringe ever since, and also appeared at the 2003 Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

In 2002, he recored his first series for BBC Radio Scotland Craig Hill’s Passionate Encounter, and he went on to front the BBC radio comedy quiz, Famous For Five Minutes.

From 2002 to 2003 Craig featured in all episodes of series one and two of BBC Scotland’s Friday night comedy variety programme Live Floor Show, and remained a regular when it was was promoted to BBC Two in 2003.

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Glasgow Comedy Festival Preview Show

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Some hae jokes and cannot tell ’em,
Some cannot joke that want to:
But these hae jokes and they can riff,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.


The traditional Burns Nights launch of Glasgow’s comedy festival in – where else? – London certainly offered a line-up more appetising than haggis.

Such was the embarrassment of talent that consummate compere Susan Calman had to crash through the night’s acts, using her overpowering ‘evil pixie’ charm to quickly corral the audience into their cheery place, pausing only to share a few tales of domestic mischief at the start of each half before cracking on with the show.

Arthur Smith seemed confused as to why he was here, working for free at a gig emblazoned with sponsor Magners’ logo. But then, at his age, confused is probably an occupational hazard. Still, his combination of well-practiced one-liners and professional grumpiness proved a wry introduction to the night, undemanding for both performer and audience.

Canada’s Tony Law offered a much less honed act – written on the bus, so he claimed – but then that is the point. Like much of the best comedy, his shtick is controlled madness; hammering home ridiculously silly phrases ad nauseum, then defusing them with a knowing commentary on how idiotic he’s being. Harry Hill meets Ross Noble, sort of.

Although Law befuddled the crowd in a good way, they were less sure of what to make of Kevin Eldon, equally mixing surreal randomness with a vocalisation of his internal monologue about what he was up to on stage; in this case adopting the guise of a fictional Northerner. All rather odd, it suffered a little from being outside the context of his impressive solo show.

Overwhelmingly good-natured, Josie Long’s attack on the Coalition’s cuts brought to mind parliamentary jibes about being savaged by sheep, as she earnestly pleaded for them to leave alone things she finds joyful, such as libraries. It’s a new angle to the usual cynical attacks on politicians, and a refreshing one. The bulk of her set, though, involved an anecdote about an horrific road accident in which she nearly died. Without giving the end away, she didn’t, and she makes the tale remarkably upbeat.

Madonna pumps out the speaker, and Craig Hill explodes on to the stage in a twirl of leather kilt, executing high-impact dance moves. He’s the very definition of camp, catting about those who don’t meet his exacting standards with exaggerated disgust and even more exaggerated expressions. If you want a double entendre, he’ll give you one – and the audience banter flows freely. Depth? Who needs it, when you’ve got this heightened sense of self-fabulousness.

Just a slight contrast comes in the shape of Miles Jupp, in fine suit and stiff upper-middle-class demeanor. Opening with a few spot-on quips about Boris Johnson, he explains that he’s taking to Glasgow a show about every Scot’s favourite subject: cricket. The extract he performed from Fibber In The Heat – which tells of how he blagged his way into the press corps covering a Test series in India – proved delightfully funny, even though it’s a storytelling piece which, by rights, shouldn’t work in a stand-up environment.

Robin Ince, more used to long shows where his peripatetic mind is given full rein to both leap around and set out his intellectual stall was worried about performing in the limited time slots offered to each act tonight. In fact, it was the making of him – forcing him to distill his middle-aged, middle-class prejudices into pin-sharp and beautifully grumpy, punchlines. He may be a cardigan-wearing bibliophile, but he can be beautifully acidic.

John Moloney is, by nature, a more precise performer; every pause accurately timed, every word delicately chosen for maximum effect. Such an approach allowed him to build a solid circuit career on a reliable, if rarely changing, bank of one-liners. These days, however, he is increasingly employing those skills in observational stories; and his yarn here about such simple a task as taking the cat to the vet squeezes a laugh from almost every sarcastic sentence, building up an increasingly vivid and ridiculous picture of the incident with every droll, disappointed line. Fine work, in both senses.

Richard Herring’s no stranger to the Leicester Square Theatre, having performed his revived Christ On A Bike show here since before Christmas. Here we were treated to one of the finest sections from that: the elegant deconstruction of the opening verses of the Gospel according to Matthew that’s both silly and incisive in equal measure. It revolves around a feat of memory, but it’s more impressive as a feat of comedy.

If all the Glasgow festival is as strong as this taster, the city is in for a real treat.

  • The Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival runs from March 17 to April 10. More details
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Published: 26 Jan 2011

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