Vladimir McTavish: A Scotsman's Guide To Betting

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

‘You can bet on absolutely anything these days,’ says Vladimir McTavish, by way of introduction. Which is handy for him, as it allows free reign to shoehorn any topic into his narrative – just as long as Paddy Power will take a wager on it.

Even the fact you can bet online leads him to a bit about Twitter, since that’s on the internet too, and then on to Wayne Rooney, since rumours about him circulated on the microblogging site. Tenuous, for sure, though whether it really matters is a different point. McTavish has got a sizeable supply of gags, so what matter the framework he uses to display them?

It does, however, give him a story he can keep returning to. Though not a gambling man, McTavish found himself at a casino in the small hours one morning, seeking just a couple more drinks. There he won a few quid – beginners’ luck, perhaps – which gave him his idea. Could he turn that into the £7,000 it costs a performer, on average, to stage an Edinburgh Fringe show in time for the 2011 festival, where a version this show was first performed?

To this end, he has a couple of conventional bets on the horses and the like, but also more outlandish ones, such as whether Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi would die in Libya before the end of 2010, or the results of the Scottish Assembly elections.

Betting on the outcome of McTavish’s jokes isn’t a sure thing by any stretch. He’s got some great lines, but also plenty that are more obvious or weak. The Tommy Sheridan gag is greeted by silence not, as he suspects, because we don’t know the case, but because the punchline’s not particularly strong.

Yet he powers through it all with an air of cheery resignation. There’s always an impish twinkle as he bangs out the gags, even the more political ones, and the emphasis very much is on moving quickly through the punchlines. No worries if one hits stony ground, there are plenty more to come, as he whisks through topics broad and narrow, and even takes us a little trip to the Far East, for no other reason than he’s got some gags about Bangkok massages.

In the end, sheer strength of numbers will ensure a good time, as there are bound to be some in the fast-moving cavalcade that you’ll like. There’s nothing too substantial to the show, even the will-he/won’t-he tension of making the money isn’t particularly well-exploited, but it’s a more-than-solid hour of decent lines, designed for a comedy-club crowd.

Review date: 20 Oct 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Manchester Apotheca Bar

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