When comedian Rosco McClelland began his Edinburgh Fringe run last year he had no idea the month would contain the worst day of his life.
Halfway through his sell-out run fiancée Linzi was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and the former Scottish Comedian of the Year had to consider whether he should cancel the show or carry on.
Glaswegian Rosco, 30, went into August expecting news about his fiancée’s health – Linzi, 32, was under investigation for a neck lump but he was optimistic of a good outcome. Then, as he exited the Gilded Balloon one weekday afternoon, he received a call that would change his life.
He said: “Linzi called after a show and just started crying. I knew right away it wasn’t good news. When she said the lump was cancerous I just couldn’t believe I wasn’t there with her. I thought about ending the Fringe right there, cancelling the rest of the shows but Linzi told me to stay there and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Rosco doesn’t regret carrying on with the show but worried about other people’s reactions. He said: “I wouldn’t care if I had a bad show because of what happened, that’s my fault for choosing to be there. I did worry that my in-laws, my parents or friends would think I was a bad person for carrying on. Thankfully everyone was understanding and supportive of the decision.”
Fortunately, Linzi’s cancer was contained to the thyroid and she didn’t need any further treatment beyond an operation to remove the gland. The couple married in December 2018, meaning they had the best and worst days of their lives within mere months of each other. Comedian’s often grapple with mortality in their work and the story of what happened last year will feature in new show Magic Belly.
Rosco took a lot of things into consideration when deciding to come back to the Fringe this year. Edinburgh would forever be associated with bad news and the Gilded Balloon itself a reminder of the devasting day. He said: “I absolutely love the Gilded Balloon staff and the venue but it will always remind me of that horrible moment and I needed a bit of breathing space so have moved to Monkey Barrel this year.”
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After an expensive 2018 with the Fringe and a wedding to pay for Rosco’s hoping to make some money or at least breakeven at the festival this year and couldn’t imagine giving up the chance to perform at the Fringe. He said: “I think as a Scottish act it’s insane to not take part in the biggest arts festival in the world when it arrives on your doorstep. People come from all over the world to perform and watch shows and it almost seems rude to pass up that opportunity.”
Rosco featured in the BBC Scotland show Up For It with fellow comics and friends Christopher Macarthur-Boyd and Ashley Storrie earlier this year which has led to more career opportunities outside of stand-up. This has eased the pressure somewhat for this years show and allowed the comedian to make Magic Belly fun and silly, rather than something worthy to pander to awards judges or TV executives.
The show promises to be different every day, with the stand-up having almost two hours of material to choose from. The show will also feature props, Rosco explains: “The audience get to throw rubber bricks at me, there’s a lot of visual pieces which I love to do. A lot of nonsense, fun and guaranteed laughs.” After the year he’s had, you can’t blame McClelland for wanting to indulge in a bit of nonsense.
Rosco McClelland - Magic Belly, Monkey Barrel 5, 16:35 daily (except 12 August)