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The trouble with being posh | Neil McFarlane

Ahead of Eden Comedy Club’s upcoming stand-up comedy night on September 26, we speak to one of the show’s participating comedians (and occasional actor): the self-confessed ‘posh Glaswegian’ Neil McFarlane.

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
17 September 2014, 9:31am
Neil McFarlane:
Neil McFarlane: "I’m so glad I’m coming to Malta when the lampuki is in season. Love that damn fish"
What exactly does being a ‘posh Glaswegian’ entail?

Well, it doesn’t exactly involve daily duties, it’s not like being a member of the Royal family.  It’s just that I was born and brought up in quite a nice part of Glasgow, Scotland – and some people outside Glasgow (especially in the south of England) don’t believe that Glasgow HAS any nice parts.  They still believe what TV shows in the 80s – like Taggart – told them about Glasgow – that it’s full of razor gangs and violent drunks and everyone eats nothing but deep-fried pizzas and Mars Bars and beats their wives because they lost their jobs at the shipyards.  So when people in London hear my accent, they don’t believe I’m Glaswegian at all, so I have to explain I’m a ‘posh’ one. Quite a lot of people in Glasgow don’t believe me either...

At what point did the complete terror of performing stand-up in front of a live audience begin to abate?

I’ll tell you after the Malta gig if it happens. Actually the instinctive terror abated after about three years, when realised I was starting to get about a 50% hit rate on my jokes. But the rational terror can return at any time – when you see an audience of stag nights, hen nights, birthday parties and office parties, all raving drunk, and the act before you got booed (or bottled) off, then there’s good reason for terror. But that doesn’t happen too often, thank goodness. And it’s always good to feel a little apprehension and nerves before you go onstage because that keeps you sharp. If you’re relaxed and unworried about it, it’s because you’ve become too lazy or complacent, or you’re FAR too drunk.

Does being a full-time comedian feel like a ‘proper job’?

No. Certainly not the time spent on stage. Assuming the gig’s going well, it’s the most fun you can have with your clothes on and it doesn’t feel anything like a job. But a lot of the time spent OFF-stage, looking for gigs, sending e-mails, making phone-calls, booking travel and accommodation, all the admin basically, is never very HARD work – but because it’s unending and essentially unchanging, it can feel a bit like a pointless office job. Although at least you could say I’m on flexi-time.

How is stand-up comedy different to acting? 

In some ways it’s the same. Even if you’re a comedian who ISN’T a character act, you’re still sort of playing a part, it’s just the part you’re playing is you. The main difference though, is that because it’s your material, you get to choose what you’re going to say on any given occasion. That’s a freedom in some ways, but sometimes, as an actor, it’s nice just to relax after you’ve learned your lines, stick to them and let the director order you about. Plus as a stand-up you’re always alone on stage, which is fine if the show is going well but you can feel a bit exposed if the gig is tricky. As an actor, it’s lovely to collaborate and to be part of an ensemble, that kind of support can be nice and can sometimes lead to greater creativity and all that stuff.

Are you looking forward to performing in Malta?

Hugely. I’ve been to Malta three times, and it’s one of my favourite places. The weather is great, the people are lovely and friendly, the scenery is unique – I love Mdina and approaching Valletta by ferry – and the FOOD! I’m so glad I’m coming when the lampuki is in season. Love that damn fish. And Paceville and St Julian’s are great for bars and nightlife and stuff. Plus the venue is REALLY cool. (I believe the hotel’s quite nice too). But regarding the gig, I’ve performed in Tenerife, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, the Czech Republic and Serbia before, always to mixed audiences of local and international people, and they’ve all been really good fun. So I reckon this one should be too.

Neil McFarlane will be performing at the Eden Comedy Club’s 10th stand-up comedy night on September 26 at Eden Cinemas. He will be accompanied by Paul F. Taylor, Bobby Freeman and Geoff Whiting. Doors open at 19:30. Entrance is at €20. More information and bookings: www.edenculture.com.mt, 2371 0400

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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