A captive audiece

Comics perform in Barlinnie jail

Three stand-ups have performed a gig in Glasgow’s tough Barlinnie jail, in a bid to help improve inmates’ mental health.

Stu Who?, Scott Agnew and Alan Anderson played to just under 100 lags in the prison chapel – an incentive for those who had completed a course about their mental well-being.

Comedy gigs behind bars are nothing new, but it is hoped that the Barlinnie gig will lead to further shows in other Scottish jails, plus stand-up workshops for inmates to help them build social skills ahead of their release.

Stu Who has previously performed several gigs to prisoners. He said that jail crowds ‘are usually very reticent to laugh… Some of them are quite hard men who don't want to be seen letting their guard down.’

Compere Anderson, pictured, said another disadvantage was that the audience was sober. He broke the ice with some good-natured insults, while Agnew made no secret of his homosexuality, and got laughs from his graphic descriptions of his bedroom activities.

Deputy Governor David Abernethy said: ‘On the one hand the aim was to provide a wee bit of entertainment for the prisoners - but also to use that as an opportunity to engage with them on mental health issues.’

Stu Who? told the Glasgow Herald that it was important to take stand-up to different audiences: ‘Comedy is about social comment and observation - who better to make it to?’

But he added that the comedy night in Barlinnie could have another positive effect, saying: ‘If the show is bad enough, people won't want to come back. Maybe we can put them off jail that way.’

Here is how the gig went:

Published: 27 Jun 2008

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