My Comedy Hero: Keir McAllister on Bruce Morton
Glasgow-born comedian praises gangly trendsetter
The subject of heroes is a tricky one for comics. Where musicians seem to welcome the obscure and eclectic influence, one misplaced nomination from a comic and you're walking into a world of pain. I once saw two comics come to blows over a conversation about Jerry Sadowitz. Jerry I'm sure, would have heartily approved. I am confident, however, that my choice will meet with nothing but passionate approval because without this man, it's questionable whether there would be enough Scottish comics to even have a decent fight.
In 1992, when I was 17, I first saw Bruce Morton on his own TV series called Sin: a gangly Glaswegian with flailing arms that looked like they had four elbows each, shouting out jokes about the human condition. That was my Damascus moment; to hear a Scottish voice that wasn't Connelly's doing stand-up like they did in London, meant that the glimmer of that possibility truly existed for me. The subsequent establishment of The Funny Farm, a comedy collective with Stu Who?, Parrot, and later, Fred MacAulay cemented the arrival of alternative comedy in Scotland and paved the way for The Stand and the circuit that still exists today.
But it’s not just his legacy that we should appreciate: Morton is incredibly funny. His comedy has a cerebral gallusness, the swagger of the educated everyman; it's aspirational while being unapologetically Scottish and he's still innovating. His monthly Greater Shawlands Republic gig not only seeks to politically satirise these interesting times but re-frames stand-up in a cabaret setting with live music and interactive PowerPoint while his club set is an ambitious 20-minute deconstruction of the pub gag.
Bruce Morton is still setting trends, is still one of the funniest and most incisive voices on the circuit and I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. Except maybe Jerry Sadowitz …
The Songbird Bar and Function Suite, Dunipace, Sat 20 Jul; Behind The Wall, Falkirk, Fri 26 Jul