Scott Agnew: I've Snapped My Banjo String, Let's Just Talk
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2016
Agnew returns with his sequel to 2012's Tales of The Sauna, moving out the steam room into the living room. The consequences of gay sex going Abigail's Party. Hailed as a master storyteller, his 2016 offering is a snapshot of hardcore, working-class gay life touching on mental health, sexual health and general misadventure. The former Scottish Comedian of the Year's language and imagery is bold and brash – the stories deeply personal. 'Electrifying' (Guardian). 'Unmissable' (Chortle.co.uk). 'Tough, funny, original' (Attitude.co.uk).
Scott Agnew: I’ve Snapped My Banjo String, Let’s Just Talk
There’s a lot of choking, wheezing, snorting and tears in Scott Agnew’s show; that’s the audience in fits of laughter from the start. One person had to rest their head on the chair in front they were laughing so hard.
Agnew is physically imposing, all 6ft 5in of him, ramrod straight and with a rich, sometimes guttural Glasgow voice. His show is robustly physical in its imagery. I didn’t know what a banjo string was, but I knew it wasn’t a banjo string, if you see what I mean, but that little mystery was cleared up early doors. Always learning.
Sexuality, addictions, STDs, mental health and relationships are all on the menu here and, ‘banjo string’ aside, the show is the enemy of euphemism. The content is graphically hard and harsh at times, but so achingly funny, all the more so because you know it’s true.
There will be moments where your eyebrows will shoot over the back of your head. Agnew has an absolute gift for painting a picture of events that happened and then suggesting what might have happened, giving it the impact of a cartoon. I was still howling the following morning recalling his description of trying to use the lavs in a Prague sex club and retain a measure of dignity. Priceless.
More than just verbally he’s now developing a knack for physical comedy, both deliberately – miming a walk through a lube-slick on a tiled floor, and a cruelly spot-on impersonation of some Shoreditch gays who dominate TV production in London – and also unconsciously, I assume, wearing a smart but too-small jacket that strains its one button and emphasises his gangly arms and legs.
He’s a nervy, twitchy performer and sensibly plonks himself on a stool to stop himself wearing out the carpet by being constantly on the move, but then cannot help himself twiddling with the mic stand until it collapses, knocking over the fan, hauling the curtains around and imperilling his glass of water, or knotting his legs together like a Curly-Wurly. Tommy Cooper and Lee Evans would recognise the moves.
His delivery swings between staccato dashes at sentences that drop and veer off and the big, set pieces, performed with enormous confidence, bringing it home like a conductor concluding a symphony. The banjo string routine will make you cry with laughter and wince at the same time.
He dials down the filth and the fury towards the end, using a lighter touch, contrasting the raucous centre of the show with unsentimental humanity.
Rudely, hysterically funny and brutally, touchingly honest this is not a show for the faint-hearted, but for the tender-hearted. This is autobiographical, explicit comedy at its pinnacle.
20:00, Fri 14 Apr 2017
- St Andrews Byre Theatre
- £10 (£8 concs)
- 20:00 (Doors open approx 30 mins earlier)