The best upcoming Scottish comedians in 2011
Young Scottish comedians James Kirk, Chris Forbes, Dee Custance, Davey Connor and Antony Murray join us for a chat
Overlooking the cosmopolitanism of Glasgow’s International Comedy Festival, The List invited five of the best upcoming Scottish comedians to the Stand for a light-hearted debate about the psychological trauma of making drunks laugh on demand. James Kirk, winner of this year’s prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? contest, was joined by Chris Forbes, his partner in sketch trio How Do I Get Up There?, appearing at the festival as his gothic alter-ego Damien Crow. Ukulele-wielding Dee Custance is erstwhile mistress of ceremonies at her Lemon Custard shows, while Davey Connor co-hosts the irreverently experimental Stockholm Syndrome nights in Glasgow, where Antony Murray has been known to appear as Jay Kowolski, a thinly disguised New Jerseyian cipher for his bitterness and impotent rage.
How does the Glasgow Comedy Festival compare to the Edinburgh Fringe?
Davey Connor: ‘None of that acting shite!’ There aren’t many Glaswegians willing to pay to see a guy frolicking on stage singing. But whether it’s good or bad comedy, Glaswegians will go and see it.
Dee Custance: The media aren’t looking for their next Radio 4 show.
Connor: You get to see your mates’ shows you couldn’t see at the Fringe. And the audiences are more comedy literate. Fewer people turn up just hoping for the best.
Chris Forbes: Comedy used to be the new rock’n’roll but it’s turning into the new pop. I think Glasgow’s still very much rock’n’roll, more home-grown, more about what Scottish acts are doing and less about the industry.
Is the Scottish stand-up community supportive?
Connor: You stumble into friendships. But they’re weird because you’ll spend the whole night gigging with someone, not see them for three or four months, then pick up that companionship where you left off.
Forbes: It’s such a small scene. Everyone knows everyone.
James Kirk: I don’t know if that’s the case now. There are so many gigs you’re lucky to know two or three folk on a bill.
Antony Murray: From day one I’ve tried to be slightly aloof. Who needs comedians as friends?
Custance: Thanks Antony!
Murray: Most of the guys who began when I did aren’t any good. I’m not going to lie to them.
What’s the definition of making it as a comedian for you?
Connor: Finding good gigs that fill up your diary. And being known down south.
Forbes: Recognition amongst your peers.
Custance: Not being on the dole.
Murray: I’ll give it a couple of years. You’re only one big break from making it. But if I see too many more guys I’ve performed with who are gash, getting their own TV shows … och, I’m oot!
Kirk: Having enough money to retire.
Have you found your own voice as a comic?
Connor: You worry about having the same line as someone else, because it can easily pop into your head. I’ve been on stage wondering if I’m stealing one of my mate’s.
Custance: You see comics who write together doing the same jokes. But that’s fair enough.
Murray: I remember hearing [Scottish comedian] and [Scottish comedian] doing the same joke and saying to someone, ‘you know, that’s a great joke. Whose is it?’ He replied: 'Bill Hicks’’.
Forbes: The minute you come up with a really good joke, you think ‘someone must have done this’. So you text around to find out …
Connor: I’ve certainly googled to see if there’s a comedy influence …
Custance: Yeah, you don’t want to be stealing crap jokes!
What have been the low points?
Forbes: The Wickerman Festival. We did a sketch show to nobody.
Murray: I fell off stage at Wickerman. I’ve fainted twice on stage.
Custance: Didn’t you nearly die?
Connor: He gigs in a hard hat now …
Murray: Amazingly, I’ve had worse gigs.
Do you still get a buzz from performing?
Connor: The buzz comes from any new bit you do that works.
Forbes: I still get nervous. Stand-up’s the world’s best natural laxative, without a doubt.
Custance: Once you get that first big laugh though, you can relax a little.
Kirk: Sometimes I get a laugh when I come on, just because of how I look. Then I die on my hole for the rest of the gig. So that first laugh isn’t always a good indicator.
James Kirk appears in Well This Is Awkward with Matt Winning and Stephen Callaghan, Capitol, Friday 18 March, 8.30pm
Dee Custance appears in JayDee and Coke with Jay Lafferty, Brel, Tuesday 22 March & Tuesday 5 April, 8.30pm
Davey Connor appears with Iain Stirling in Take Off Your Wristband It’s Not That Kind Of Festival, Friday 25 March, 8.30pm, and The Stockholm Syndrome, Saturday 19 March, Saturday 2 & Saturday 9 April, both Blackfriar’s Basement
Chris Forbes performs in The World According To Damien Crow, Capitol, Saturday 2 April, 8.30pm
Antony Murray: One Prick Tony, Capitol, Saturday 9 April, 8.30pm.