Aye Right? How No? The Comedy Countdown to the Referendum

Comedians McTavish and McAllister at their Fringe 2014 show

Vlad McTavish and Keir McAllister
Assembly Rooms
1830 until 24th August
Reviewed 7th August
3 stars

Whoever’s doing the marketing for this show has really excelled themselves.

Now although that sounds like the kind of backhanded compliment that opens a savaging review, in this case it’s a genuine commendation rather than a commentary on the performance. Testifying to the marketing team’s hard work is the most genteel, middle-aged and unequivocally Scottish audience I’ve seen outside of a charity ceilidh in the Alloa Community and Recreation Hall.

It’s no disservice to Vlad, Keir and their rotating rosta of guest performers to say that this demographic has been carefully targeted to meet their material. They acknowledge it themselves, with references to the Bay City Rollers and Carry On. One comedian straight-up asked the crowd if anyone was under 21. I suspect that the flyering team is under orders not to approach anyone that looks that young.

Aye Right? How No? bills itself as “left-field answers to Scotland’s big question”, and although it is vaguely Referendum-flavoured it’s hardly hard-hitting political satire. There’s discussion of politicians’ physical characteristics rather than their policies. There’s YouTube videos on a projector.

Demonstration of the comedian's outfit by Jerry Seinfeld

Scottish Referendum comedy, circa 1994

Vlad McTavish and Keir McAllister are institutions of Scottish standup, so you probably already know what you’re getting with them. It’s an entirely comfortable pairing – as dual comperes they’re remarkably at-home with one another and with the crowd. They do a couple of sets throughout the show and, as promised, they give an even hearing to both camps of the Referendum. It’s a safe environment for even the most rabid Yes and No supporters to sit alongside one another.

The list of guest performers seems to be pretty solid. Propaganda Now put on some funny-esque videos and then stood back. Jim Smith exemplified the show – brought the hoose down with a demonstration of Scottish brogues and regional characteristics, but if he mentioned the Referendum once it was lost to me. He also wore a delightfully appropriate mid-90s standup comedian outfit of checkered shirt tucked into beltless jeans. Enjoy this picture of Jerry Seinfeld for reference.

Aye Right? How No? is a bit light on substance but brings enough laughs. I’d be more inclined to barrack it if it engaged with the Referendum more fully, or steered clear altogether. It feels like the kind of decaffeinated variety show that you might enjoy, say, as an alternative to bingo. It’s…decent.

Three stars.

EU < Patrick

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