On my travels to various comedy venues I got to see many varied and assorted styles. It was quite a pleasant culture shock; having spent over a third of my life in a foreign country so to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
YouTube offers a comfortable advantage but I find it lazy and besides, a very good comedian can sound awful through the lens and audio of a badly-used smartphone.
Music legend Prince banned all YouTube footage of his concerts taken at live events and I can see now what he meant. He was not merely trying to piss people off – he was protecting the quality of his work.
I visited as many venues as geographically possible and within a timeframe allocated to me. I had to switch off YouTube and get down to the bars and clubs to see and hear for myself.
In and around Glasgow and the west of Scotland there is a growing trend in stand-up comedy hopefuls. I believe there are more prospective comedians than venues and the numbers are growing – and decreasing.
I was on the search for something that I was used to in the last few years. I left Glasgow and the famous ‘Glasgow banter’ so long ago I felt completely out of the loop. Working with American comedians and Europeans I was probably being swayed in my hunt for a comedian that fitted all what I had been used to in recent years and that was: intelligence, observation in people-watching from a higher position without necessarily diving headlong into the sub culture pool; and someone who has the ability to play with the English language and make it appear effortless.
Cue Kirsty Morrison, the loveable laughing lassie from Largs, in Scotland.
For me, what is important is the same for anyone watching a stand-up comedian and that is they have to be funny; and I don’t really take much notice of a comedian’s appearance unless they have an aura of sorts.
Kirsty stood out for me in so many ways even before she took to the mic. She has that elegant, classy Jewish-like quality look about her that is synonymous with the Jewish comedians of young and old; she could easily mix it on the New York City circuit and her material is a match for her appearance. It was substance meets style, every inch of the way.
Kirsty is a joy to watch. Her take on life is brutally honest but someone has to say it ~ Stephen Hamilton
Her petite frame and well-spoken stutterless voice is flawless and her intelligence is evident. She was the first comedian that I’d seen on my travels that never fluffed or spluttered and her vocals are glass-clear. She does use the erm(m)…quite a bit but 5million Scots have the same habit so she has to be excused.
It was also a breath of fresh air to be in the company of a female comedian who did not mention the words ‘period’ or ‘cake’ except to tell the audience she doesn’t tell jokes about them.
I quickly noticed her people-watch skills when she referred to a bunch of 40-plus-old men in a Glasgow bar hopelessly staring into their £2.99 pints of beer and wondering where their lives went wrong.
It’s memorable observation quotes like that that I am always attracted to. Of course, I probably didn’t quote Kirsty exactly but I know I will always remember the line as close to the original because it was observation most of us see but only a few can package it into a great comedy line.
I caught up with Kirsty where she gave me more of an insight as to how she got involved in comedy, her style of comedy, and what she hopes to achieve in comedy…
Dafty News: Your thoughts on female comedians. Do you think it is harder to make an impact on the circuit or do you believe we’ve moved on since the men only social club environment?
Kirsty Morrison: It has moved on a bit from the ‘men only’ environment. In some ways it can work in your favour being a woman in stand up as there’s less female comedians and a lot of places try to have at least one woman on the bill so sometimes it can actually be easier to get a gig! The fact that there’s not as many women can mean if you’re good at what you do you stand out a bit more. I’d be lying though if I said there’s no sexism at all in the comedy scene. It can be as subtle as members of the audience coming up afterwards saying ‘I usually hate female comedians but I liked you’ or as in your face as the other acts you’re on with making comments. Having said that, every new act has to learn to put up with comments and develop a thick skin fast. If you don’t have a thick skin then comedy probably isn’t for you, regardless of gender.
Dafty News: They say comedians choose the life of stand-up comedy as a way of self-validation and to fulfil the need to be accepted. Do you believe this theory or is it possible to be a very good stand-up comedian and still sustain a level of psychological balance?
Kirsty Morrison: I think everyone has different reasons for doing comedy and not everyone does it for acceptance and self-validation. Most of the people I’ve met through it seem normal enough! Or maybe my view of them is skewed because I’m as weird as they are…There must be something a bit wrong with us to want to get up on stage and joke about our lives in front of strangers.
Dafty News: How long have you been a stand-up comedian?
Kirsty Morrison: I’ve been doing stand up for just over 2 years now.
Dafty News: What do you hope to achieve as a comedian?
Kirsty Morrison: I’d like to be really good at it.
Dafty News: What and who would you say was the main influence and reason behind you taking up stand-up comedy?
Kirsty Morrison: I kind of ended up doing it by accident. One of my lecturers from uni was doing a weekend course in stand up with the comedian Obie and told me I should go along. I did the performance at the end of the 2 days and that was me hooked.
Dafty News: What inspires you to write?
Kirsty Morrison: Just whatever’s going on in my life at the time. That, and a deep and boundless rage and contempt for the world and everyone in it.
Dafty News: What would you say your style of comedy is?
Kirsty Morrison: Dark. I always say it’s stuff people would think but would be too scared to say out loud in case they offended someone.
Dafty News: Who is your favourite comedian?
Kirsty Morrison: It’s a close call between Frankie Boyle and Dylan Moran. I couldn’t choose.
Perhaps my most memorable and lasting thing about Kirsty is how she has the ability to take her material to the edge without fear and without that typical outer anger. She has it under control. I love her scepticism and cynicism on life and the way she brings it all out in her eloquent and calculated style.
I don’t review new acts, rather opting to highlight their potential, so there is no point or reason to give Kirsty a mark out of 10 but for her potential she has everything required to make it work in the world of stand-up. Her potential is huge.
It can be cut-wrist at times in the business of comedy but Kirsty has that cool persona and well-liked character but above all, Kirsty is a writer of a very high standard and as we in the comedy business know; the writing sometimes doesn’t match the stage time but if you can merge the two you stand to have one helluva chance.
In Kirsty, that chance is already there in front of her. The only thing in her way is her herself and with her intelligence I am sure she already knows that.
I hope to see more of Kirsty. Of all the relatively new to absolute new acts she stood out for me. Her huge potential and wide berth of writing/performing skills dwarfs her pint-sized frame.
And she’s only going to get bigger!
Article by Stephen Hamilton