Tickling Jock (3 stars)

Tickling Jock

Billy Connolly, Ronnie Corbett and Stanley Baxter feature in this comedic portrait exhibition

It would be thoroughly glaikit for anyone to criticise Tickling Jock for not including much in the way of the modern Scottish comedian. For this is very much a portrait of the way our nation’s funny men and witty women once were: knee-deep in the music hall and variety traditions. But the contemporary set (Boyle, Sadowitz, Bridges) are gently hinted at through their absence, with Billy Connolly acting as the buffer between the old school and the new breed.

The Big Yin was fully aware and humbly respectful of the homely acts who helped pave the way for his success while he used that opportunity to forge a more outspoken career for himself. In the On Air section, there’s footage of the interview with Michael Parkinson which opened the doors to the kind of exposure which helped him become the stand-up legend that he remains today.

Leftfield legends such as Chic Murray and Ivor Cutler nestle up against household names Ronnie Corbett and Stanley Baxter, while relatively lesser known acts of the old days like Tommy Lorne and Dave Willis get their moment. Like much of the humour on display, the entire effect is relatively safe. Tickling Jock is at its best when it trips you up, with less expected photographs such as Harry Lauder entertaining Winston Churchill in his rural Lanarkshire pile or Lulu delivering an enthusiastic Tommy Cooper impersonation.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 25 May.

Tickling Jock: Comedy Greats from Sir Harry Lauder to Billy Connolly

A major exhibition of portraits of Scotland's funny men and women. The subjects are a long and illustrious list, with music hall stars and TV comedy heroes from Sir Stanley Baxter, Rikki Fulton and Una Mclean to Ivor Cutler, Ronnie Corbett and the Big Yin himself. There are 'On Air' booths for you to listen to clips of…

Tickling Jock Opening Lecture: A Comedy Great – Johnny Beattie

Veteran comedian and actor Johnny Beattie opens the Tickling Jock exhibition by discussing his career, and those of the comedy greats he's known, with his daughter Maureen Beattie.

Tickling Jock: Curator's Tour

Senior Curator Imogen Gibbon gives a guided tour of the Tickling Jock exhibition, featuring Scottish variety stars, comedians and actors.

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