It’s a tale we’ve all heard before– the self-deprecating star that never watches themselves on film for fear of over-analysing their performance.

Not Karen Dunbar.

“A lassie yesterday showed me a video on her phone an old sketch from the Karen Dunbar show,” she giggles, “and I stood and watched it and was pishing myself laughing!”

This sense of pride hasn’t always come easily to Ayrshire-born Dunbar, who explains that she was “too critical” of herself in the early noughties when she became ubiquitous with Scottish comedy. Having little television experience, Dunbar was making a name for herself as a DJ and karaoke compere when she was chosen to star in Chewin the Fat (from 1999 to 2002) and then the Karen Dunbar Show (from 2003 to 2006). Two decades on, she is finally able to enjoy watching some of her best-loved characters – who are reaching new generations through clips shared on social media.

“When the Karen Dunbar Show was on TV, I was too caught up in what people’s reactions were, what the viewing figures were. I was too critical of myself. But now, if I’m on TikTok and one of my old sketches pops up, I love it! Before I would have said ‘oh I should have played that line differently’, but now I really enjoy watching myself, or watching the boys in old scenes from Chewin the Fat. You think ‘aw I remember that day’ and it’s almost like looking through an old photo album.”

The format in which we watch comedy has changed, she says, but despite taking part in a documentary last year on so-called ‘cancel culture’, Dunbar still believes there is a “huge audience” for the sketches that made her famous.

“You can see how much Chewin the Fat has been part of Scottish culture, not just for one generation but continuing now. The wains are watching clips from it on their phones. Tastes, and culture, it’s all cyclical – what was funny then might not be funny ten years on, but it will become funny again. I would love to do characters from Chewin the Fat and the Karen Dunbar show but as they are now, having moved on twenty years, and see what they are up to.”

She might struggle to find the time. Dunbar has thrown herself back into DJing since lockdown lifted, with one of her popular ‘Big Night Out’ gigs at Oran Mor in Glasgow scheduled for Easter Sunday.

“It’s the most amazing thing to watch a group of strangers dancing together and singing a song. The buzz of that is unmatchable. It’s 70s and 80s stuff I play, a wee bit of 90s if it’s cool enough. I take a lot of requests. I tell people to come up and tell me want they want to hear and my god, they do that – I get a queue of people with ten songs each!”

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Her love of music has also been channelled into a new social enterprise that Dunbar started in lockdown, running rap workshops for community groups around Glasgow. Beginning as a project on Zoom during lockdown, Dunbar now goes out to visit various groups, helps them compose their own rap song and then produces the music to accompany it. The process is the subject of a new documentary, Karen Dunbar’s School of Rap, which charts her work with a group of senior ladies and her attempts to get them to perform their own rap song live at a concert in north Glasgow.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve ever been in. It is a total collaboration with these women in their sixties and seventies learning to rap and it’s amazing to follow their journey. I’ve loved watching it.”

Karen Dunbar’s Big Night Out! is at Oran Mor on April 9. Karen Dunbar’s School of Rap is available to watch now on BBC iPlayer.