'It was an incredibly arrogant thing for me to do' | Paul Sneddon, the comic behind Vladimir McTavish, recalls his most memorable gigs

'It was an incredibly arrogant thing for me to do'

Paul Sneddon, the comic behind Vladimir McTavish, recalls his most memorable gigs

First gig

Believe it or not, my first stand-up gig was actually an hour-long solo show, that I promoted myself in a pub in Newcastle. It was where a sketch show I used to perform in had a residency.  One month, the other members were not able to do the gig, so I decided to do the night on my own.

 Looking back, it was an incredibly arrogant thing to do.  Amazingly, however, the gig was really busy, and my set went incredibly well.  If nothing else, I guess it goes to show how low audience expectations were in those days.

After that, I probably didn't do another stand-up gig for about two years

Gig that changed my life 

in 1997, when I was still based in London, I was booked by Tommy Sheppard to do a gig at the Tron in Hunter Square in Edinburgh, which was one of the pubs where The Stand used to promote nights before they opened their own venue.  

I was headlining the gig, but also did a five-minute try-out sot earlier in the night for a character I was developing for that year's Fringe. After I had done the short spot as the character, a woman in the audience approached me and said: 'I really enjoyed that.  When you went on, I thought you were going to be shit.' We are now married, and 22years lat er, we are still together

Worst heckler

Without doubt, this has to be an audience member at a gig I did in Dumfries in 2004 or 2005, or thereabouts. An incredibly drunk guy in the second row took off his false leg.   He then put the leg on top of his head, with the foot pointing upwards, turned around to face the room and said, 'Look at me, I'm The Isle Of Man.' There really is no satisfactory come-back when you get heckled by prosthetic limbs.

Most exotic gig

I'm not sure whether this qualifies as exotic or not. However, I once was flown out to Australia to do one gig.  John McAllister, who runs the Comedy Lounge in Perth, used to do a big theatre show in July, in the middle of the Australian winter.  It was called An Englishman, An Irishman and A Scotsman.

Ian Coppinger was the Irish act, but he was already out in Australia as his partner lives in Perth. Myself and Gavin Webster were flown out from Glasgow Airport on Wednesday night UK time, arrived in Perth on the Thursday night, did the gig on the Saturday and flew home late the next night, getting back home again about four days after we had left.  As I say, I'm not sure if it qualifies as 'exotic', but it's definitely the furthest I have ever travelled to do one gig.

Worst journey to a gig

I once drove down from Edinburgh to South Wales on a Friday afternoon, on the day of a national rail strike.  It must have taken about nine or ten hours.  

The gig was in a council leisure centre in Pontardawe, which is up the valley from Swansea.  Not only was the traffic appalling, but I did most of the journey in torrential rain.

 The moment I turned off the M4, my driver's side windscreen wiper stopped working.  I arrived at the venue just in time to get on age and do my set.  The gig went incredibly well, probably as I was high on adrenaline.  

After all that, I never got paid for the gig.  The promoters were a bunch of chancers who had taken the council's money but not paid any of the acts. They ended up owing money to loads of comedians

Vladimir McTavish: 60 Minutes to Save the World is on at The Stand's New Town Theatre at 18:50. He also plays Mr Doyle in the play Madame George at the Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose at 1pm

Published: 20 Aug 2019

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