Gig of the month

Bill Bailey: Thoughtifier

P&J Arena, Aberdeen, February 15; SEC Armadillo, Glasgow, February 16 and February 25

The sales pitch for Bill Bailey’s latest tour goes: “a magical, musical mystery tour of the human mind, along with some other pressing matters about whales, biophilia and unrequited love. Amplified with Music.”

To be honest that could be a description of pretty much any of his tours. The joy of Bailey live has always been the melange of music, wildlife and weirdness as delivered by a comedy Gandalf. Bailey’s success on Strictly has given him a leg-up in the national treasure standings, but he has remained true to his comic persona; that of the charming, face-pulling hippy who is gobsmacked by the wonder of the world around him. Is he the least cynical stand-up on the circuit? He’s certainly one of the most reliable.

Craig Hill, This Gets Harder Every Year!

Howden Park Centre, Livingston, February 2; Macrobert Arts Centre, Stirling, February 10

It’s been more than 20 years since Craig Hill made his breakthrough on BBC Scotland’s Live Floor Show. Which makes it all the more impressive all these years later, just how fresh and funny his gloriously camp brand of comedy remains. By the way, audience participation is not only expected at his shows, it’s pretty much compulsory.

The Herald: Craig HillCraig Hill (Image: free)

Jay Lafferty Bahookie

Lanternhouse, Cumbernauld, February 24 

I know what you’re thinking. Is that pole on stage going to be used? Well, wait and see as Scottish comedian and Radio Scotland regular Jay Lafferty tells you about getting older, keeping fit (yes, pole dancing might be involved) and finding joy now that she has reached her forties.

Daliso Chaponda: Feed This Black Man Again

The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow, February 11

Maliawan comedian Daliso Chaponda came to prominence in 2017 thanks to his appearances on Britain’s Got Talent (where he was a big favourite with Amanda Holden). His latest show sees him revisit the themes of his very first solo show Feed This Black Man filtered through the sieve of 20 years’ extra life experience. Expect his take on negative African stereotypes, standing up to your boss, questionable relationships and the naivety of youth. Chaponda’s likeable cheeky chappy persona means that there are times when you don’t realise how hard some of his punchlines are landing.

The Herald: Maliawan comedian Daliso ChapondaMaliawan comedian Daliso Chaponda (Image: free)

Ania Magliano: I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This

The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow, February 15; The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen, February 16; The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, February 17

According to her website Ania Magliano is a triple threat: “bisexual, Gen Z, bad at cooking.” Glad that’s clear. Magliano was born in 1998. I’m sure I have T-shirts older than that. But that only makes her sunny confidence onstage all the more impressive. She’s definitely a name for the future. The current show she’s touring was nominated for Best Show in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards during her sellout run at the Fringe last summer. It contains bad haircuts, surgery and romantic failure as well as going to darker places than you might expect. It’s an impressive calling card from a fresh new talent with a real stage presence. She’ll be playing bigger venues soon.

Susie McCabe & Friends

The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh, February 4

Susie McCabe’s fantastic Femme Fatality stand-up show was one of the highlights of last year’s Fringe. A charming show that took her from birth to middle-aged lesbian life via her time in the construction industry. Little surprise that BBC Scotland opted to screen a performance of the show recorded at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow just before Christmas. (You still have 11 months to catch it on the BBC iPlayer). Next month sees her return to more bread-and-butter stand-up with this matinee show in Edinburgh which sees her host an afternoon of comedy in the company of some of her “comedy chums”. Sounds like a good day out. And you can always hang around for Stephen K Amos who’s on at the same venue later that evening.

The Herald: Susie McCabeSusie McCabe (Image: Susie McCabe)

James Acaster: Hecklers Welcome

Edinburgh Playhouse, February 20-22

Clever should never be a criticism. James Acaster’s stand-up always has more than a touch of the meta about it. He tries on personas, fictional characters, comedy voices, and, despite his regular routines on the likes of British imperialism and Brexit, isn’t afraid of out-and-out silliness.

But at the core of his comedy is anxiety. He regularly discusses mental health issues - on his podcast James Acaster’s Perfect Sounds he would begin each episode saying, “James Acaster here, and in 2017 I had a breakdown” - and whether or not he even likes stand-up.

His latest show, which he performed in Glasgow last summer, sees him go back to his childhood in Kettering to try to figure out why he has such a love/hate relationship with performance. Basically, it’s Acaster’s Marvel origin story as told by someone who is in full control of his comic power.

And yes, as the title implies, he’s not averse to you heckling. Make it clever though.

Rob Brydon: A Night of Songs and Laughter

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, February 18

Brydon may be best known as TV comedy panel host (Would I Lie To You?), comic actor (Uncle Bryn in Gavin and Stacey) and stand-up. But there’s a hankering in him to be an old-school variety performer. This is that dream lived out. Brydon comes to Edinburgh with a nine-piece orchestra to give us tunes made familiar by the likes of Tom Jones and Elvis. We are also promised impersonations of Mick Jagger, Michael Caine (because how could Brydon not?) and even Steve Coogan. The ghosts of Val Doonican, Mike Yarwood and 1970s Saturday night telly must be looking on approvingly.

The Herald: Rob BrydonRob Brydon (Image: PA)

Garth Marenghi’s Incarcerat Book Tour

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, February 23

The Usher Hall? Really? Such is the wide reach of cult success, I guess. Garth Marenghi (aka Matthew Holness) had his own series, Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, on Channel 4 back in 2004 in a late-night slot where not many watched. But over the years this horror parody has found an audience and Marenghi’s star has risen. This tour sees the “master of macabre” return with extracts from his terrifying (or should that read terrible?) new book Incarcerat.

Alexandra Haddow: Not My Finest Hour

Edinburgh Monkey Barrel, February 17

Originally from Corby (no surprise her dad is Scottish), Alexandra Haddow is on the up. She has appeared on Radio 4 and contributed to Have I Got News For You? in recent years and her stand-up career has seen her support the likes of Frankie Boyle and Bill Bailey (that name’s familiar). Her deeply personal show Not My Finest Hour - it’s full of millennial oversharing and Instagram - was a sellout at the Fringe last summer and she brings it back to the capital next month.