Raymond Mearns

Raymond Mearns

Raymond Mearns, regular Thursday-night compere at the Stand in Glasgow, has been performing across Scotland, and beyond, for more than a decade, since starting his career in Glasgow’s infamous Comedy Cellar, at the time hosted by Ed Byrne.

He is a regular contributor to Radio Scotland's Fred MacAulay Show; has adopted a number of guises on BBC One's Live Floor Show in 2002-3 and is part of the improvisation and sketch show Dance Monkey Boy Dance.

Mearns is also an actor having appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including Ken Loach’s Ae Fond Kiss in 2004, in which he played Big Roddie.

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Raymond Mearns Live

Review by Steve Bennett

It might seem out of character for the self-ascribed ‘rough as fuck’ Glaswegian, but Raymond Mearns starts his show with a Truman Capote quote: ‘I can alchemize what wounds me into art’

The reason being that, after a tough couple of years sharing his woes with festival audiences – his alcoholism and his wife leaving him – the past 12 months have been pretty kind to Mearns. Which means he now finds himself with no pressing, or rather depressing, subject from which to forge comedy.

So he falls back on what he spends most weekends a year doing in comedy clubs the length of this land, riffing with the front row. His questions don’t go much beyond the ‘What’s your name? Where you from? What do you do?’ type, but it’s enough for him to have plenty of sport, not least with the youthful-looking, Bach-loving music professor from California with perfect Colgate teeth, who pretty much embodies everything Mearns isn’t.

His style is punchy, the right side of aggressive (except, perhaps, for raging into the occupational therapist without really understanding what the job entails), and the feedback he gets front eh audience allows for both quick comebacks and segues into longer routines, which again are driven by an angry passion, disproportionate to the subject under discussion. Some of the harsher-edged stuff elicits semi-disapproving ‘ooh’s from the back of of this festival audience, with their ears more delicate than the average Jongleurs crowd.

However, his limited line of questioning means there’s only so much potential in this, and after 20 minutes or so - the length of a normal club set - Mearns pretty much runs out of steam, and launches into some longer stories about working on the cruise ships or from his days of heavy drinking. Their aren’t enough gags here, and the laughs dry up, though he’s build up enough trust for the audience to indulge him. A closing routine, about a long night out that ends in a strange encounter on a night bus, ends in a nice payoff, but – like the route home itself – is too circuitous by far.

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Published: 1 Aug 2014

Raymond Mearns

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