Comedian Kieran Hodgson reveals his cunning gameplan as he prepares to embark on his Big In Scotland tour. 

As a Scot, there are many aspects of our culture to be proud of, but there are few that rival our ability to encase almost any food stuff in the confines of a pie. John Lennon once said that he was born in Liverpool, but Hamburg made him a man. Kieran Hodgson was born in Yorkshire, but moving to Glasgow has made him an honorary Scotsman, a true aficionado of our bakery culture and the many layers and aspects of the Scottish psyche.

This is all examined with care and affection and true wit in Big In Scotland, his latest stand-up show, which was a clear standout in last year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Hodgson has taken the show on the road, and as we talk, he is in the midst of a run at the Soho Theatre in London. The show has been well-received and reviewed south of the Border too but there are some clear cultural divisions.

“I have found that Arnold Clark jokes fall flat,” he says. “And where macaroni pies are received and understood in Scotland, not a titter in England.
“When I was first planning the show, the risk very much was there that I would get the tone wrong; that I would come across as yet another Englishman making a lot of very cheap gags. If it had all been shortbread and Nessie, the show would die a very swift death – and deservedly so.”

Hodgson plays Gordon in one of Scotland’s best-loved recent comedy, Two Doors Down, so home has been Scotland for several years now, but there was still just enough distance to retain the aspect of “seeing us as others see us” for Big In Scotland. “I know some people are coming to see ‘Gordon’ and that’s OK. I have managed to take acting roles and do stand-up in parallel,  and in many way one fuels the other. I’m not successful enough in either field to give the other up!
“I know that some people expect Gordon and then after five minutes think… hmmm that’s not Gordon. Then for 10 minutes they think, what’s he doing? Generally by that point they’re enjoying what’s happening anyway.”

The show is sharply observed but never cruel – he even spoke to the real people he mentions to give them an idea of the material and the context. People like Elaine C Smith and his Gaelic teacher. He says: “I’m not the sort of comedian who sets out to attack or ridicule someone – or Scotland as a whole. “The show is about celebrating through humour and in my experience there is no audience that has a better sense of humour about itself than the Scots.”

The difference between collaborative work with a cast and the lonely life of a stand-up means that the material does need sounding boards.
“I’m a planner really. One the show is in place, it is in place and I use the previews to edit – there were a lot of bits that didn’t make it through the preview stage. There was a whole bit about Munro Youtubing, a whole bit about the Scottish devolution referendum in 1979, William Wallace… they just didn’t work.

“I do often worry that I’m not spontaneous enough; for example, I wouldn’t know what to do with a heckle but thank goodness that hasn’t happened yet. Please don’t take that as an invitation to test me! Even before the previews, Kieran has a ‘brains trust’ who he knows will be brutally honest with him – “and that includes my husband”.

Aside from Arnold Clark and macaroni pies, there are so many clear cultural differences that happens in layers as he moves up and down the country.
“I’m really interested in our relationship as neighbours. The UK and France are neighbours but very different, with very different histories but with England and Scotland we’re so enmeshed in one another we feel very familiar. We feel like we know each other but I don’t think we do.

“That’s how it should be – that’s what makes us interesting. I talk in the show about wanting to become Scottish, but what does that mean?
“The show has been a joy to write because it’s also allowed me to make so many discoveries about my new home – a place that has been so good to me.”

Kieran Hodgson - Big In Scotland is on tour. February 24, Shetland Arts; February 29, Dunfermline Carnegie Hall; March 23, Melrose Corn Exchange; Mar 28, Inverness Eden Court; Mar 29, Glasgow Kings Theatre; March 31, Aberdeen Lemon Tree. Tickets at