Going Out: Funny Ha Ha?
Anna Docherty visits the Stand and asks: who would want to be a stand-up comic anyway?
It's difficult to understand what drives comedians up to the stage. Look at the Stand's logo – an image of a cowboy shooting himself – and you might just get a glimpse of how people feel as they prepare to do stand up for the first time. But still, people seem willing to take to the stage and risk heckling, abuse and even physical violence, all in the hope that one day, it will be them that's asked to appear on Saturday night telly. But let's face it: we're all glad they take the risk.
At the Stand, Edinburgh's premier comedy club, the focus is on cheap, fun nights featuring a variety of both new and more established comedians. Its specific aim is to nourish new talent from Scotland and beyond, most of which is done at the weekly Red Raw nights, which allow the funny (and brave) to run the comedy gauntlet. Also, look out for the free Sunday lunchtime improvised comedy show Whose Lunch is it Anyway?
The roster of comedians that have visited here reads like an encyclopaedia of mirth. Jerry Sadowitz, the desert-dry, savagely acerbic comic, has played here many a time and says: 'There’s nothing really clever or gimmicky about it. It’s just that the club has a really good atmosphere and the comedians are usually top quality too. It’s exactly what you want, as either a performer or an audience, which is why it works so well.'
Johnny Vegas, the tubby, Northern English star of panel shows and now sit-coms, agrees: 'The Stand is differen … where else would they appreciate my particular brand of psychology?'
During the Fringe, when every comic in the world flocks into Edinburgh, the Stand comes into its own. But even outside this time, it has a consistent and excellent line-up.
On top of all this, the Stand also has a well-stocked bar and a good range of filling homemade grub, such as beef chilli and veggie ratatouille. Apparently laughing 100 times is the equivalent of 15 minutes on an exercise bike. I know which I’d rather do.