Carl Donnelly set for The Stand

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Carl Donnelly set for The Stand

As a jaw-dropping introduction to the mad old world of stand-up, Carl Donnelly’s second ever gig takes some beating. When telly channel Five were putting together a typically sensitive Race Swap show, it might have seemed like a good idea at the time to have ex-EastEnders star and, for the seniors among you, Runaround presenter Mike Reid black up and deliver his material in a Rastafarian guise. ‘It was all about how his comedy would work coming out of him if he was black,’ recalls Donnelly still sounding fairly aghast at the scenario. ‘It was probably the worst show I’ve ever seen but it was still an interesting experience watching how someone’s jokes would work if the comic looked completely different.’

For 28-year-old Donnelly, this notion has some resonance, given that he has cultivated an intriguing look himself, with curly hair and tinted glasses that wouldn’t appear wholly out of place on a spoof 70s porn movie directed by Judd Apatow. But slowly, Donnelly has tried to escape the potential trap this might impose upon him. ‘I’ve had this hair since I started out and I’ve always had the tinted glasses; I’ve copied my dad on that – it’s some weird south London taxi driver thing. When I was 18 and needed glasses, I got those but never thought it was something I had to have on stage. But two years ago I got normal, dark-rimmed standard ones and when I first wore them on stage it was the worst gig I ever had. And I just thought, “without the tinted glasses I’m nothing”.’

While getting his hair cut and donning less retro specs is not something he’s afraid of, last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer nominee knows where to draw the line. ‘What I could never do is properly smarten up. I don’t think my style of comedy would work if I came out in a smart suit, it would be ridiculous. With someone like Michael McIntyre, in his voice and with his manner, a suit works. But if I did that, I’d just look like I’d come from a job interview.’

The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 18-Sat 20 Feb; The Stand, Glasgow, Sun 21 Feb

The Thursday Show

Carl Donnelly's up this weekend, with his charming comedy schtick and legion of awards (which, to be fair, he'll probably leave at home). Scott Agnew holds the show together, which also features Benjamin Crellin, Martin McAllister and Eddie O'Dwyer.

The Friday Show

Carl Donnelly's up this weekend, with his charming comedy schtick and legion of awards (which, to be fair, he'll probably leave at home). Bruce Devlin replaces Scott Agnew as host, which also features Benjamin Crellin, Martin McAllister and Eddie O'Dwyer.

The Saturday Show

Carl Donnelly's up this weekend, with his charming comedy schtick and legion of awards (which, to be fair, he'll probably leave at home). Bruce Devlin replaces Scott Agnew as host, which also features Benjamin Crellin, Martin McAllister and Eddie O'Dwyer.

Glasgow Kids Comedy Club

Live comedy for ages 8-12. Keeping it clean this week will be Vladimir McTavish, Bruce Devlin and visiting comedian Carl Donnelly. No under 5s; all kids must be accompanied by an adult.

Michael Redmond's Sunday Service

Float like a butterfly into the land of the Sunday Service, where Mr Redmond confounds audience and introduces Carl Donnelly, Nathan Catan, Graham Mackie and Ray Bradshaw.

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