My Comedy Hero: Bruce Devlin on Margaret Cho, Jane Mackay, Joan Rivers and Kitty Flanagan
The Scottish comic discusses some of his favourite influences and idols
I’m genuinely not a fan of stand-up and didn’t know you could do it as a job. When I was growing up, I was into Kenny Everett, early French and Saunders, and Victoria Wood. I wasn’t old enough when Saturday Night Live and Julian Clary were coming through, so I didn’t know about comedy clubs per se. I was lucky enough to have Margaret Cho on my chat show in Edinburgh about three years ago: I knew it was a big deal because people had been talking about her, and my friend Jo Caulfield absolutely raves about her. Margaret gave a brilliant interview, was very candid and I went to see her show and for an hour she is unspeakably filthy, but commanding and compelling without having to shout; she means everything she says or at least she is very convincing about it. I went back to see her three times and I never do that. She’s genuinely a comedy heroine, in that I find her, at the risk of sounding like a tosser, inspiring.
My original comedy heroine is Jane Mackay who co-ran The Stand with Tommy [Sheppard]. She was a fabulous mentor for me and when she was good, there really was no one to touch her. It wasn’t that she was punchline, punchline, but there was an absurdity and an honesty about her and a relevance to everything that she said that made it such a strong combination.
The other person is Joan Rivers, not so much now because I look at her and think ‘you’re just hoovering up as much money as you can’. But I went to see Joan at the Glasgow King’s about five years ago and she was phenomenal. You can think of loads of people who have a decent 20 minutes and can go up and down the country but get them off the stage and they’re just not funny, boring as hell; but someone like Joan is just Hollywood. She is such hot property in America now, but I could listen to her blether all day.
Kitty Flanagan is one of the few people who is totally under-rated and I was very lucky to get friendly with her. There’s a joke she does about being pulled up for parking in parent and child spaces, and she says ‘I’m sorry, it’s like he’s still here’: just fucking hilarious. And Kitty isn’t right in your face, it’s the vocabulary and the details.
Jongleurs, Glasgow, Fri 29 & Sat 30 Nov; The Stand, Edinburgh, Thu 5–Sat 7 Dec