THE world’s oldest surviving music hall welcomed one of the country’s newest rising comedy stars, J.D. Brown, at a sold out night, in a venue steeped in unique history of live entertainment in the city of Glasgow.
The Britannia Panopticon, situated at the Trongate end of the city centre, goes back to 1857 where the iconic building first welcomed in its stampede of hungry hordes who would pack the benches and balcony for a rousing evening of live entertainment. It’s in the heart of the city and in the hearts of the people. Its history, like the interior, is quite simply breathtaking.
Many famous icons have performed in front of what was often described as hard-to-please working-class Glaswegians who would ensure a full house where theatre, music, art and dance were provided and presented in front of a rowdy, often baying audience.
The great Stan Laurel (Laurel and Hardy) was just one of the many greats to have graced the stage at the famous Britannia Panopticon.
Now, 160-years-old, times have naturally moved on and a new breath of fresh air has blown up the old entrance close and into the arena. It looks a lot bigger than some photographs suggest and the place has had a well-earned touch of decoration; but you cannot help but feel there is a haunting, almost ghost-like feeling that surrounds it. There’s a touch of magic and mystery and the owners have worked wonders to do the place justice.
Thankfully, on this occasion, there was no stage performing animals, freak shows or a heart-stopping stunt act trying desperately to free themselves from a straight jacket from a hardened bygone era.
No, this is 2017 — the new world. The clean, healthy and safe one; but the demands are equally as high today. The city of Glasgow still likes its entertainment to be of a high value and it’s not afraid to let you know if they’re not getting their fill.
The Britannia Panopticon is tailor-made for comedy and its stage is fitting for old classics to up and coming stars of the new world. It’s a beautiful place to both perform and to be entertained in.
Coatbridge comedian J.D. Brown began the first of his three-date Manic Regressive show to a full house. Did the funnyman succeed the first of his three-round dates?
Dafty News Comedy Corner took in the action.
The show was hosted by popular radio presenter Robin Galloway with local Glaswegian comedian Hamish Tennant as support act.
Robin Galloway is a masterclass and thorough professional at his craft and it shone at the Panopticon. The audience loved him — who couldn’t? The eager crowd was treated and reacquainted with some of Robin’s legendary on-air characters and he’s as good live as he is on his radio show.
Support act Hamish Tennant replaced Aberdeen-based comedian Graeme Tait who sadly fell ill just prior to the show. Hamish is the comedy scene’s Mr reliable who clearly revelled and basked in the theatre of ghosts from a Christmas past.
Hamish’s material, as ever, oozes intelligence and he uses language befitting of a sophisticated comedian. His charismatic persona is infectious as he slowly eases himself into his set and it doesn’t take long before the crowd warm to him and his endearing entertaining tales.
He’s a man for this type of stage and his aura radiated it as he strolled through his set. This is a fine well-liked gentleman who doesn’t take himself too seriously but he clearly is serious about the quality of the content he crafts and delivers. A star performance from a star comedian.
Great host in Robin Galloway and a superb support act in Hamish Tennant laid the foundations for headliner J.D. Brown to pave his way onto the path many greats tread before him.
Manic Regressive centres around J.D.’s upbringing — lamenting much of his childhood and touching on the chaos that surrounded his mother and sibling relationship.
It’s only been a small number of years since J.D. Brown first entered the bear pit of stand-up comedy and since then there have been many personal and professional battles he’s had to overcome.
“I had extremely high hopes for J.D. and as I introduced him on stage I told the crowd they were about to witness a comedy masterclass. I wasn’t wrong because that’s exactly what they got. One hour of the most original, brilliantly crafted material I think I’ve ever heard. J.D. took the audience on a personal journey through some stand out parts of his early life. The bit where he discovered his granny had a fancy man had the place in bits. A superb performance with sparkling content and a shoe-in for a return booking.” – Robin Galloway
There was a sense of freshness — almost calm-like — about J.D.’s. performance on the big stage at the Britannia Panopticon. He is no longer the promised article tagged with potential. He has grown, matured, and by his outstanding one-hour performance packaged with quality and bar-raising content, J.D. Brown has become the comedian so many anticipated. The time for living up to the hype finally arrived. It was time to step up onto the big stage and deliver a big performance. It’s what the audience had waited for and for many of J.D.’s peers, it was something they all knew he was capable of.
J.D. Brown more than rose to the challenge. His style has changed somewhat but for the better. He’s gutsy but more controlled. His style of writing has evolved and his presence on stage enlarged. There is no secret he has been working tirelessly on shaping himself for the long-term.
“Manic Regressive has to be one of the funniest live shows I’ve seen in years. J.D. manages to achieve a perfect balance of great material and captivating delivery not seen since Billy Connolly in his prime. Just don’t take his advice on how to ‘talk dirty to the missus’. I’m currently sleeping on the couch.” — Ricky MacIntyre
In all, it was a joy to watch a comedian who has a previous of troubles turn it around and sculpture it into a fine piece of art. It was pleasing to see the man so often surrounded by furore finally find his feet to carry a magnificent occasion lightly on his shoulders.
There is one element to J.D.’s game and that is he’s actually brilliant at accents and character voices. He lays full blame on his misspent youth listening to Phil Differ and Jonathan Watson. It certainly helped with his ‘Turkish Barber’ routine.
“J.D. Sports and J.D. Wetherspoon don’t have a look in. J.D. Brown is that good he could make Donald Trump a great President. Sides were aching with laughter. A must-see show. J.D. true genius.” — Scott Eadie
J.D. Brown 2.0 has found his real purpose and omitting any distractions that previously had the potential to derail him, there is no doubt this fine funny comedian has what it takes to go a long way. He’s already proven he has the sustainability, the endurance, the will and of course the talent that will take him there.
J.D. has two other dates from his three-date Manic Regressive which already look like sell-out shows, adding to the welcomed pressure, but there’s something about J.D. Brown when the time of action duty comes calling — he knows how to rise to it and meet it square on.
We’re already looking forward to Manic Regressive II and III.
Saturday 18 March
Saturday 25 March 8.30pm
*A very special thank you to photographer David Higgins who provided an outstanding photography service at the Britannia Panopticon.
See more of David’s photography and to arrange a booking here >>>