Christmas Lectures return to The Stand
Andrew Learmonth talks to The Skinny ahead of The Christmas Lectures comedy gigs taking place at The Stand.
Christmas has thrown up some fantastic comedy moments: Alan Partridge visiting sick kids in hospital, Edmund Blackadder embracing the spirit of Scrooge, and then there was Father Ted and his colleagues circumnavigating Ireland’s largest lingerie department. This tradition is not lost on comedian and writer Andrew Learmonth, who’s gathered together some of Scotland’s finest resident funny people for a festive extravaganza.
The Edinburgh Christmas Lectures is back at The Stand on three consecutive Saturdays in December, after last year's successful maiden voyage of novelty Christmas singles, improvised cracker jokes and a rap battle between Santa and Jesus Christ.
Now, Father Christmas and the son of God return for round two, but creator Andrew Learmonth isn’t relying solely on this box office bout to sell tickets: "We’ve got elves, yer da, Hans Gruber from Die Hard, the snowman who wears the kilt in The Snowman, an ill child who’s been given a present by Noel Edmonds, and the Christmas tree from Jenners all taking part." Learmonth remains tight-lipped, however, as to whether he’ll reprise his role as The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come for the festivities.
What we do know for certain is that he has lined up a magnificent cast for the lectures with the likes of Derek Johnson, Jay Lafferty, Kier McAllister, Susan Morrison and Eleanor Morton all on board.
Morton will be performing in her home city for the first time since the Fringe, where her sophomore solo hour Allotted Mucking Around Time – which tackled rats, moths and mining museums, before signing off on a Leslie Nielsen style freeze frame – was an early afternoon success story.
“I am looking forward to the Christmas Lectures,” says Morton, "I've been in London all year and it will be nice to be able to come home and see everyone – apart from Susan Morrison.”
It’s a strange time of year; autumn is barely done with and the local supermarket is piping Hark The Herald Angels Sing into our ears as we nip out for Pringles. 80s pop acts switch on Christmas lights in provincial Scottish towns they've never heard of and department stores make TV adverts using a budget more suitable for a box-office film. With all this in mind, Morton is conscious that the now customary annual Christmas hysteria makes the season ripe for a pisstake.
“I think Christmas is a comedy target because we're such a cynical nation”, says Morton, “and any chance to undermine something so joyous is always pounced upon. The John Lewis ad is barely out before a parody version pops up, where the moon-man kills a Clanger and wears its head as a hat whilst self-harming and singing Bing Crosby. America doesn’t do that sort of grimness – I've just got back from Boston and they are so nice and snuggly and happy...and all you want to do is ruin it.”
Best of all though, the series of Christmas Lectures provide a safe place: no harm can possibly come to anyone at this gig. “Was it last year when that Chair-O-Plane fell to the ground?” asks Learmonth, referencing the Ferris Wheel accident in Edinburgh. "There was nobody in the chair but imagine that. Imagine you’re sitting up there and the empty chair next to you falls hundreds of feet to the ground and smashes into tiny pieces. They didn’t reduce the prices or anything. You’d have thought they knock a pound off at least. Anyway. Come to our gig because you probably won’t be thrown to your death.”