Stand Up Drink Up

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

‘The more you drink, the funnier we are,’ goes the familiar compere’s maxim, so what better union of booze and stand-up than a comedy pub crawl? The idea is simple: four acts in four pubs dotted around Glasgow’s West End.

It certainly lends an adventurous twist to a comedy line-up, and lively MC Alan Anderson, whose idea this was, instils a sense of comradeship before we set off, with a little help from a White Stripes Seven Nation Army singalong. ‘We’re going to visit some of Glasgow’s finest and shite-est pubs,’ he says as he hands out free whiskies all round in the first pub, ‘and experience some of Glasgow’s finest and shite-est comedians.’

Former Scottish Comedian Of The Year John Gavin gets us started, in the back room of of an agreeable, airy bar called The Dram. His domestic tales of being a father of three young girls have some charm, and wit but the performance here is subdued. ‘That joke deserved more,’ he protests on more than one occasion, but they are knowingly undersold. Gavin is affable enough company, but progressed little since he won his title 18 months ago.

Off, then, to the next venue. But nothing is made of the walk. We’re left to make our own way, when what we really need is an anarchic tour guide, like Arthur Smith on his late-night tours of Edinburgh on the last night of the Fringe., engaging playfully with the locals whose attention we catch.

The next venue, The Arlington, is a no-frills boozer that’s unlikely to feature on many tourist trails, with velour tracksuited neds swigging own-brand cider from the bottle on its doorstep. Yet it was where the Stone Of Destiny was stored after students liberated the historic Scottish artefact from Westminster Abbey in 1950, and a replica (or the real thing, depending on who you believe) is on display there now.

The history was, unfortunately, more interesting than the comic, Rob Kane, who told of the shithole of the town he comes from and the effects of a recent, obviously painful, breakup without yet being able to focus strongly enough on the funny. The performance was muddled, although he has an imposing presence and a smattering of strong lines, although too many tired and hackneyed ones bring the average right down.

And so we leave the Arlington’s regulars to their quiet night’s drinking and on to the traditional Wintersgills pub, where we again have the privacy of a function room. Here we find Eddie Cassidy, who has a couple of very entertaining routines to his name – a new take on the initially unpromising subject of late-night soft port channels; plus a great yarn from his many, many drug-addled years. Other sections are weaker, especially a clichéd routine about the virgin birth of Christ, but there’s promise here.

Finally, to probably the nicest bar of the crawl… but the one least suited to comedy. There was already a lively charity night in full, noisy swing at the Lexington – and they didn’t really want a comedy night imposed on them. Still, sandwiched between announcements about the raffle, Scott Agnew clambered on to an unlit coffee table and did his best.

Anyone within listening distance would have engaged by this charismatic storyteller’s entertaining tales of the farce at his granny’s funeral or the man who unwittingly stumbled into the Glasgow Pride parade, revealing the fine line between laddish hetero high-jinx and screaming camp. However, everybody else continued their own conversations.

Four comics – and four drinks – after the initial rendezvous, and the novelty of the pub crawl ensures a memorable night, even if the booze doesn’t. But more thought to the journey, and to the performance areas, would make it an even better one.

Review date: 25 Mar 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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