Some say Billy Connolly is the best, but Jim Duffy has a few other suggestions for the title of Scotland’s greatest comic.
Billy Connolly was probably the first comedian that I ever heard. My old man bought a live LP where Sir Billy was giving it laldy.
I was in primary two and I took the LP in at Christmas as our teachers said we could listen to our favourite music. Hesitantly, both primary two teachers quietly listened to the first track and within 30 seconds switched it off and put the vinyl back into the album sleeve. They turned to me and gave me that look that says: “Idiot!”
So, my classmates never got to hear all about Puffin Billy and a whole host of other anecdotes that involved lots of the F word. There is no doubt that Sir Billy is a fabulously successful comedian, but, just who is the best Scottish comedian of all time?
Can I start by saying that my wee brother of 38 years just loves Billy Connolly. So did my dad, obviously from a young age. But, he doesn’t float my boat. I don’t find his sketches funny. I cannot associate with his on-stage persona and I don’t think I have ever watched any of his videos. So, despite being probably one of Scotland’s top exports in humour, I just don’t dig him. But I know that many would argue the toss with me and insist that he is the best comedian of all time to travel south of the border and way beyond.
As I grew older and into studenthood, I was introduced to Jerry Sadowitz. I went to see him play at the Edinburgh Fringe and thought he was funny as heck. He was totally outrageous and side-splitting as I watched him crucify celebrities, politicians and footballers. He showed no mercy when it came to the ex-Celtic and ex-Rangers footballer – Maurice “Mo” Johnston. Johnston played for one side of the Old Firm and then ended up playing for the other at a time when it was just unheard of. And he was a target in Glasgow.
Sadowitz was all over this and it was hilarious. But, even though I had a great evening, I’ve never felt the urge to follow Sadowitz and go again to hear his new material. Maybe it was just a one-off for me, a one-night stand that did the trick but I didn’t want his number again. For me, Sadowitz is an outrage architect who goes for the jugular. But, it’s maybe too brutal for many to stomach. However, the wee man is still touring and has been in London this week – to mixed reviews!
Enter probably my favourite Scottish comedian – at least on DVD – as I have never gone to see him. If he reads that, I could end up regretting this. He has taken Connolly and Sadowitz and added a hint of something special. Yes, Frankie Boyle has my attention, so much so that I will repeatedly watch his videos about two to three times a year. Crazy eh? The same jokes, but I still laugh out loud and get just as shocked.
Someone bought me one of his books because they knew I liked him. But, I’ve still not picked it up and don’t intend to. I’m not interested in his life story, nor his demons. I only want to see him be funny – and he is. Boyle can mix it with the best, switching from his memorised performance to improv with the audience that is stunningly skilful and articulate, while acerbic and vituperative.
There is always the “will he, won’t he” toPur again tease. But, if and when he does a big one, I think I might get my credit card out.
One of the more over-looked Scottish comedians, who is totally off the wall, is wee Limmy. Brian Limond has probably the best TV comedy shows of this decade. He has created some of the funniest characters that never fail to raise a smile.
From Falconhoof to Jacqueline McCafferty, Limmy can take types and stereotypes and put a twist on them that shakes them up into bigger than life size, making for very entertaining viewing. He has created a niche in his TV shows that have a real cult following, including me. I would have to have Limmy in the top five of all Scottish comedians.
Never let it be said that we are all modern here with the current crop. There have been terrific Scottish comedians such as Ricky Fulton, who entertained us very new year with his sketch show – the Reverend I M Jolly is classic comedy. And let’s not forget Gregor Fisher as Rab C Nesbitt. A very decent comedian, who has a place in many of our hearts. Together with Chic Murray, Elaine C Smith, Armando Iannucci, Karen Dunbar, Fred MacAulay and so many others, Scotland has produced great talent that has captured the attention and imagination, while tickling ribs all over the globe. But, I’ve saved the last few words for a real star.
Drum roll please for Kevin Bridges. The boy from Clydebank is neck-and-neck with Frankie Boyle, if not edging him out with every performance. On his last tour, he did a staggering 19 nights at the Glasgow Hydro. If you get a chance to watch the DVD, then it will not disappoint.
Bridges has bucketloads of talent, real wit and has one of the most versatile faces that can make you laugh just by twisting it up. I’m struggling not to name him as number one for me. Perhaps, him and Frankie are joint equal – at the moment.
It’s all a matter of taste. Comedians either do it for you or they don’t.
But just who is Scotland’s best ever comedian? Maybe, we will never know ...