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Preview: Red Raw, The Stand, York Place

RED Raw, The Stand’s weekly showcase for newbies, has been something of an institution for 14 years now.

Taking place every Monday night at the York Place venue, it’s where new comedians are born. And sometimes where they die (metaphorically speaking, of course).

But it’s also a place where - often very well known - headline acts are given the freedom to experiment and try out new material.

Over the years, this veritable laughter lab has played host to thousands of comedians - including many hundreds of acts stepping on stage for the very first time - and a fair few for their one and only time.

Kevin Bridges, Susan Calman, Des Clarke and Daniel Sloss all started their careers there, and Frankie Boyle, Sarah Millican, Miles Jupp and Greg McHugh did many a Red Raw night when they were starting out.

“I used to get the train up to Red Raw and write my new jokes on the way,” recalls Sarah Millican, who went on to win an if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the 2008 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“It’s such a valuable playground for new and established comics alike.”

Jupp, who started performing at Red Raw in 2000, and the following year won both So You Think You’re Funny and The Leicester Mercury Comedian Of The Year, also owes a huge debt to the new-acts night.

“Red Raw was massively important for me,” he says. “I’m pretty sure that the first time I saw stand up when I came to Scotland would have been at a Red Raw.

“So many of my early gigs were on those nights - and it was still great.”

Sloss - the so-called ‘Justin Bieber of stand-up’ - is another who wouldn’t be where he is today were it not for Red Raw.

“It was a huge stepping stone in my career,” says the Edinburgh-based Fifer, who first performed at the night as a 17-year-old rookie.

“The Stand has been so supportive since the beginning - and I owe a lot to [owner] Tommy Sheppard for his belief in me.”

Tonight, Red Raw celebrates its 700th show, with fast-rising Irishman Simon O’Keefe in the headline slot and Scott Gibson on hosting duties.

As usual, there will be up to ten new acts treading the boards for the first time - and don’t be surprised if one or two older hands drop in to try out new material, too.

Red Raw 700th Show, The Stand, York Place, tonight, 8.30pm, £2, 0131-558 7272

GARY FLOCKHART

 

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