Marc Jennings: Here, But, The Stand, Glasgow ***
Since live comedy returned in a sustained way, stand-ups have been divided over how much to mention the pandemic – the great universal event that everyone might just be sick of hearing about. Marc Jennings never truly had a choice in the decision to make Covid a central plank of his latest show though, as it brought about the meatiest subject matter for him to chew on: his decision to move in with his now ex-girlfriend.
It is hardly a spoiler to describe her in the past tense, because in Jennings' recollection of their time together, the writing is quickly on the wall. More philosophical than bitter, the 2019 Scottish Comedian of the Year displays a mature storyteller's grasp of their domestic setup, suggesting a quite toxic situation but incrementally ratcheting up the sense of incompatibility with finely sketched detail. He is nakedly partial, his sense of persecution evident. Yet he's essentially fair to his ex, the laughs consistently strong as he surpasses mere battle of the sexes point-scoring to tease out relatable truths about failing relationships.
Around this tale, the drolly cynical Clydebank native shares observations on dating apps and conspiracy theories, making broadly satirical points about Conservative Party immigration policy and plans to dismantle the NHS from an underdog, Glaswegian perspective. Perfectly serviceable club material, it doesn't all knit neatly together, and a routine about his one-size-fits-all rejoinder for small talk feel as if he's treading water. That said, Jennings is never too far from a killer line, a gag about Leonardo DiCaprio's motives for attending the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow being a particular standout, inventive, darkly witty and bang on the money.
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