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Throughout the comedy festival I penned a few names I wanted to see live. I drew up my list and managed to capture about 80 percent of it.
Sadly, due to schedules of my own gig work and getting caught up with the whole travelling notoriety of things, I missed one headline comedian and one I have watched since he first launched himself onto the comedy scene.
I felt a little bit guilty as I know both have worked tirelessly and deserved my travelling fare, entrance fee and undivided attention.
As it happens both were on the same night. Perfect!
Two other acts on the night were two names I’d heard of but I had never seen. This was, for me, going to be a night of balance: two guys I knew of who come with very high acclaim and two guys whom I was told could surprise. I was already intrigued before making the journey to the venue.
For anyone who has been reviewed in the Dafty News’ comedy section will know, I like to get to know the comedian. I like to meet them, shake their hands and take the time with them. They generously allow me to take a pic of them and write about them – the very least I can do is extend a hand in their direction and clutch palms together.
There are two things comedians can be sure of when I review them:
I am a comedian myself so I know how the workings of both sides go. I can give an honest assessment on how I perceive material, the package, and the delivery of a comedian; and I know what it’s like to be in the audience as a lover of comedy and the whole process of how the audience sees and hears comedy.
Fellow comedians trust me. They know I never disclose their material to an extent of it giving too much away and I never, ever, ever publish anything without the comedian’s authority. I also never slaughter a comedian. If they are bad I just won’t review them.
There’s nothing worse than reading a review of a comedian who gets slaughtered by a 23-year-old online journalist whose only claim to comedy is owning a box set of BBC’s Comedy Classics.
What those journalists don’t realize is when you go and see a comedian live you might actually get their best-ever performance or their worst. Sometimes you get the middle ground but if you know stand-up comedy, I feel it gives you a better edge. You don’t need to be a stand-up comedian to know comedy but if you are one you know what it’s like to be on both sides of the mic.
I remember when Allan first started out in comedy. Before seeing him live I was already impressed by his attitude about everything from learning about the business and he was never afraid to absorb any information at all that could help him in his pursuit of being a stand-up comedian.
That attitude obviously paid off.
Allan looks like a funny guy already, before he takes to the stage. I mean that with absolute sincerity and in the nicest complimentary way possible. He doesn’t have that stereotypical look but he just looks like a guy you would go and see before seeing him. Think of a comedy poster!
He has that building-site-funny-guy look about him mixed with cheeky boy charm and a guy who always looks like he has a punchline in every pocket of his clothing.
When you see him on stage you’ll know what I mean.
Allan has all of the aforementioned - but with added extras.
His stage presence, charisma, personality and bodily movements have all the hallmarks of comedian from a throwback era. Like déjà vu.
Looking like a comedian is not enough, as you know, you need to be a comedian. Does Allan fill the boots? You’re damn right he does. Allan is not only a picture perfect comedy act – he has substance to back it up.
Allan’s material is rich with universal everyday life situations and his take on stereotypicals is clever, often action-packed, and delivered at just the right pace and volume.
He’s a very likeable lad but even more likeable once you get by that naughty boy aura. Allan J Park is one helluva funny comedian who has the bricks and mortar to build a lasting career in the comedy business. He’s already laid the foundations of it and has the bricks to go all the way up.
I’d heard of Billy and his name appears in circles of mine - with very good reason.
After only a few seconds into his set I knew then this was going to be that wee surprise I was promised.
The fast-paced Edinburgh comedian moved from one subject to another, from different angles, from a variety of tones and emphasis. I haven’t seen a comedian in such a long time who could race, pause, and change direction at the same time and still manage to pull it off while remaining wide-eyed focused and in thorough control, throughout.
Billy has that unconditional energy on a grand scale. If I may also point out – he is the first Edinburgh comedian I’ve heard to pull off a Glasgow football-related line that made me think and laugh at the same time. That takes some beating.
Billy is quick, boy is he quick. You get your money’s worth with him, that’s for sure for entertainment value. He’s animated and out in front where many daren’t go – both in the physical sense and in the material sense. A definite jaw-opener, which we need more of in comedy, if you ask me.
Like most reviews I try to write about the comedian as a person, the material on show and what impact the comedian has made on the audience first – me a distant second.
Billy has everything I love in a comedian. Having Hicks and Carlin as some of my influences; I could relate to Billy’s style. He has that controlled anger, offloading his vent from a tightly-clutched fist-around-the-mic and delivering a punch packed with full-on, in-your-face meaning. This guy isn’t just discharging frustration at the world – he is a voice of reason.
Politically in tune – and charged, I found Billy’s wealth of knowledge a joy to behold. He mixed his material with what the audience loved to hear and with some the audience could do well to hear a lot more of.
Yes, Billy is a highly-recommended act and easily bookable. He’ll go anywhere, anytime. He’s serious about his comedy and serious about his purpose as a comedian.
I wish I had spent more time with Ben. I just got to say hello then he was on stage before I knew it. His set was shorter than the other guys but nevertheless he did himself proud, as he did the organizer and venue.
Ben is an intelligent and unassuming comedian. A distinct contrast to what I am normally magnetized to so it was great watching him carry his material out into the ocean of comedy uncertainty and watch it float wonderfully without a bobble or a splash.
I love comedians like that. I loved the balance of Ben and his assurance evened out a great night of comedy. He added a quality and variety to a complete mix of comedy acts.
I am certainly going to see Ben again. This is a guy worth travelling to see and to get to know him better.
A very sure and trusted comic well worthy of any entrance fee.
The headline act of the evening.
Now, John is probably fed up hearing and reading this but I have to bring it to Dafty News readers’ attention (for those who haven’t yet been acquainted to John)…
Hamilton-based John Gavin holds a very unique and proud title of Scottish Comedian of the Year and when you see this fine upstanding family man comedian in action you’ll quickly see it’s no surprise he’s held that belt.
Before going into John’s style and act, I have to say I found John to be a credit to human decency and to the comedy industry. He has all the gentleman-like qualities as well as possessing a well-groomed appearance. His mannerisms are immaculate.
I have been looking forward to seeing John perform live for a while now. I’d seen video clips but getting right into the heart of a comedy club and watching a comedian execute their set is really what comedy is about.
So, does holding such a title of Comedian of the Year come with extra pressure? Probably, for some, but certainly not for John.
He’s as cool and articulate offstage as he is on it. His immaculate persona offstage just seems to continue onstage. John Gavin is the Rolls Royce of stand-up comedy. He’s flawless and his act is smooth and looks completely effortless.
John is a proud family man who talks openly about his kids and that father-daughter relationship thing that goes on in his household. His sequence and material range stretches farther, of course, not only restricted to one part of his life.
His intelligence gives him the ability to take his audience to places of life where he brilliantly goes from subjects like workplaces and back to family circumstances – and all this while carrying his audience in the back of his Rolls Royce-like rhythm.
John’s material is broad and wide and he likes to use those avenues; giving the audience a full map of assorted material. He doesn’t stay in one place – preferring to purr his way through his set without any bumps or diversions. A true and honest comedian as you’ll find anywhere and a very, very funny one at that.
John Gavin has all the qualities you’d expect in a Comedian of the Year winner. His interaction is sublime, his structured, composed, well-crafted style and usage of the language makes him a stand out.
Indeed, this father from Hamilton is a classic exponent of stand-up comedy and a crowd favourite.
What more can you ask for in a comedian?
Article by Stephen Hamilton
Stephen Hamilton is a Glasgow-born comedian, writer, and published author. The funny Scotsman has spent several years writing and performing comedy as well as writing for and co-writing with other comedians worldwide …Read more …