Scottish Comedian of the Year Final 2009

Hamilton father of three John Gavin wins the fourth grand final of the Scottish Comedian of the Year contest.

Review by Ann-Marie Reilly | 29 Sep 2009
  • John Gavin

There’s a packed house and a lively, attentive audience as compere Des Clarke takes the stage for the fourth installment of Ha Ha Comedy's annual contest. He does a great job warming up the audience, explaining you don’t have to be Scottish to be in this final, just to have a Scottish connection.

This is a relevant remark as first comic onstage, Ro Campbell, is Australian. The audience is heavily weighted with locals and I’m curious to see how this pans out. Campbell gets them onside with a few good-natured observations about the weather and the locals, then moves onto some original material about Guantanamo Bay prisoner, fellow Aussie David Hicks. An off-colour remark about Scotland’s slave traders then gets a strong, mixed reaction. A confident contender.

Teddy (one of The Skinny’s bloggers) was having his third crack at the title and opened with a so-fresh-it’s-still-wet topical gag about Smeaton’s running for parliament which goes down well. A follow up about the Lockerbie bomber and further jokes about Bin Laden, Prince Harry and sectarianism seem to divide and puzzle rather than conquer with laughter. A final crack at the expense of Sean Connery gets the audience smirking but generally Teddy’s political content is lost on this audience. Runner-up last year, he secured a joint-second place this time.

The audience warms to John Gavin the minute he opens his mouth and they chuckle along with every gag. His three daughters provide the main source of his material. From the Mamma Mia experience and his six-year-old’s singing inappropriate pop lyrics, through Gok Wan’s influence on his lifestyle to children’s ballet classes, his witty insight on normal family life is clever and refreshing. With a few political gags at the end, Gavin hints at the depth of his material and as he leaves, I want more. It comes as no surprise later when Gavin wins the title of Scottish Comedian of the Year 2009.

Next finalist Gordon Brunton appears cocky as he takes the stage, but is thrown by a succession of random audience members and goes off-topic to put them down with a succession of embarrassing one-liners. The audience are unsure and, by the time he’s back on track, aren’t really warming to him. In fairness, Brunton didn't really do himself justice this evening.

Ray Bradshaw is ginger and it’s caused him some pain. A good one-liner about a certain burger chain and some things your mother told you that just weren’t true raise a good few laughs. He cheerfully misinterprets newspaper headlines and chucks in a dubious domestic violence quip, scarily raising a few cheers from certain pockets of the audience. While Bradshaw didn’t place in the contest, he did get a special mention from the judges, so look out for this guy.

Opening the second half is Chris Forbes, with some shock value masturbation and dead granny gags. His delivery is good and I appreciate the content; I’m fed up with political correctness and a good deal of the audience is with me. Passing gags about charity collectors and a lesson on the history of audience reaction, he goes out on the low of public toilet ‘etiquette’. Dirty, rude, enjoyable.

You might think Chris Henry (the second Skinny blogger in the final) has an anal fixation as he devotes the first couple of minutes to this area and certainly widens the audience’s eyes. Covering Facebook one-upmanship, his daft brother and a hot chick, he jumps about a bit but his material is never far from the next sexual reference. Cheeky and professional delivery.

Keir McAllister was also a contender last year. He opens by berating a few of our cities to illustrate how crap Scotland is, then ranges across a variety of topics from hecklers through interspecies drug dens to reality TV. He closes with a rude but funny sexual anecdote, giving the sense that he tried to cram too much in to his short timeslot.

Saj Chaudry’s opening Brooklyn accent is so good I thought he was a New Yorker. Turns out he’s pretty good at accents all round, and uses them throughout his routine. Covering topics such as the X-Factor, Muslim Christmas and why his Dad picked Glasgow, Chaudry is slightly disjointed and seems more comfortable with the material based on his own experience.

Gus Tawse ranges more successfully over a lot in his short slot. There are a good few one-liners and the audience particularly enjoys an original joke based on his Grandad’s muddled memory which is clever and tasteful. Tawse has a good delivery and really holds the audience’s attention, picking up a joint-second with Teddy at tonight’s final.

In all the Scottish comedy scene was well represented at the event and I look forward to seeing more of what John Gavin has to offer.