Scottish stand-up Stu Who? dies at 74 after a long illness | Comics pay tribute

Scottish stand-up Stu Who? dies at 74 after a long illness

Comics pay tribute

Scottish stand-up Stu Who? has died at the age of 74.

His son Kahl broke the news on social media, saying: ‘He’s been very ill for some time and although this has been an incredibly upsetting day for the family, there’s some relief that he’s not in pain any more.’

Last November, the comedian had his bowel removed, after being diagnosed with cancer. He had also suffered from advanced Crohn's disease, in which  parts of the digestive system become inflamed, for many years.

Kevin Bridges led tributes, calling him 'a comedy circuit legend who was always supportive and encouraging to new comedians'.

Stu Who? – real name Stuart Henderson –  emerged on to the Scottish comedy scene in  1988, giving up his job as  a warden in a YMCA hostel for 'troubled boys' to become as stand-up.

He was part of the Funny Farm collective alongside Parrot and Bruce Morton, has performed alongside the likes of Bob Monkhouse and Bill Hicks, and has appeared in several TV shows, including Rab C Nesbitt.

And on the circuit he was known for the tall tales he’d tell in the green room. 

Michael Legge wrote tonight: ‘It was never a dull moment with Stu. If you saw him live, you were lucky. If you managed to hear any of his stories in a dressing room, you’re the luckiest.’

Janey Godley posted on X: ‘Heart sore to hear the passing of Stu Who - the first person to ever bring me onstage and encourage me to keep on doing comedy. He was also a huge champion of [her daughter and fellow stand-up] Ashley, He was the first comedian I met and he never made me feel bullied or isolated. He’ll be missed. Stu Who’s backstage stories were fucking insane and legendary. Everyone has a story about Stu who and his stories - he will be so missed'

Neil Bratchpiece, who performs as The Wee Man, posted: 'Gutted to learn Scottish comedy legend Stu Who has passed away. He motivated me to get into performing with a comedy workshop at my high school so over the following years when we gigged together he'd jokingly refer to me as "Grasshopper." RIP Sensei.’

And fellow comic Ray Bradshaw added: ‘Absolutely gutted to hear of the passing of scottish comedy legend Stu Who. He always encouraged every new comic on the scene, gave great advice to those breaking through and also told some absolutely ridiculous tales of his past. A maverick.’

Comic turned actor Michael Smiley said: 'Another road warrior comes to the end of the road. Rest in peace Stu Who. He treated every performance like it was his encore. His tales were tall and hilarious. One of the last great stand up eccentrics. Heartbroken for his loved ones, he held his family tight.On ye go big man x' 

Last autumn, comics raised more than £5,000 to help Stu meet his bills because he was too ill to gig, and later staged a fundrasising show.

In January, Stu gave his fans an update on his deteriorating health, writing on Facebook: ‘For most of the past year. I've been a hospital patient. Could  barely talk or communicate at some points and even the slightest movement was painful  

‘Heard patients begging to be put out of their misery and I admit I shared that plea more than once .. Unable to walk, often semi conscious, lying in room, totally  on my own, delirious and very unsure about my future.I honestly  thought I was going mad at some points  hallucinating.... what a mess 

‘A ;arge abscess in my bowel, painful pulmonary embolisms and the eventual removal of most of my bowel .... bloody mental... and all the while worrying howe Maggi was handling all this chaos 

‘Some of the nursing staff at Monklands [a hospital in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire[ saved me with their incredible caring and friendship and I can never thank them enough. Ella Erin Alison Molly Dominic William Grant Rashida Abby and many more 

‘Still learning to walk again and every day of therapy is a new small victory Stopped croaking and learning to speak again that's  been fun 

‘People have been so kind and so generous and there is a concert this coming week on my behalf which unfortunately I’m still unable to attend Thanx to you all I am humbled by your attention and caring.’

In his Facebook message tonight, Khal asked for ‘some privacy and time to grieve’ for the family – especially for Stu's wife Maggi, asking that no one call around. He added that the family were ‘at the very early stages of planning his funeral’ with details to be announced later.  

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Published: 10 May 2024

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