Comedy review: Des McLean

Des McLean Arts Guild Theatre, Greenock ***

DES McLean chose the wrong year to give up smoking. A first child on the way, his shock sacking from the Radio Clyde breakfast show and the volcanic ash cloud forestalling his honeymoon all contributed to 2010 being an annus horribilis for the comic. And that was before Tommy Sheridan tried to embroil the Tommy Sheridan-impersonator in his perjury trial defence.

Personal misfortune is frequently the source of great comedy though, so if there's bitterness to some of his current set, the edge is welcome. He might decry prying punters wanting to know the real scoop on the Clyde FM fallout. But better that than the audience being star-struck sycophants, ready to laugh at absolutely anything he says, as has sometimes been the case in the recent past.

McLean seems hungrier now. Fielding texts on STV's Nightshift may seem like a downshift. Yet it inspires a lovely, self-aware routine, acknowledging how he built his reputation on slightly hack impersonations of Billy Connolly and neds, while allowing him to reassert that it was his brass neck and skill as a prankster that was the real appeal, as he winds up a particularly deranged texter.

He's at his crowd-pleasing best recalling his failure to refuse a free bar in Las Vegas, a social gaucheness that re-emerges during a stay at the exclusive Skibo Castle. Like a few routines this evening, it's a little flabby and unfocused in parts, but he memorably conveys his sense of class awkwardness around the super-rich.

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