FRED MACAULAYST MARGARETS HALL, BRADFORD-ON-AVON
This is the first foray beyond the frontiers of Bath for the great Nick Steel’s ever-expanding Comedy Festival empire. Though Bradford does have a BA postcode, so maybe it’s just within the boundaries. Fred Macaulay, of course, isn’t, having travelled from the far-off nation of Scotland to be with us tonight. He’s nothing if not casual in his approach to his performance. No fancy stage costume, just jeans and a check shirt. Eschews the mike stand, preferring the hand-held so he can amble about the stage, and for all the world seems as if he’s just chatting off the top of his head. Of course, he’s doing no such thing, and his routines, based largely around his life at work and at home, are honed to perfection so as to seem just easy chat. Indeed, he tells us so at one point, in case we ever thought those ‘improvised’ riffs on Mock the Week are anything but tightly-scripted and well-rehearsed. But it all makes for a relaxed and relaxing performance, and has its audience in constant fits as he rambles around such topics as holiday nightmares in his Scots childhood; and more recent ones in America, including how not to impress your wife on an anniversary dinner in Las Vegas, and how to deal with skunk oil (the wildlife, not the cannabinoid, kind). There are views on referendums, Scottish and other; sly digs at politicians’ nonsense from all sides of the political spectrum; and much more – all of it put over with a firm grip on the collective funny-bone, and we wander off into the night satisfied to have been in the presence of a true professional.
John Christopher Wood