Occupy Edinburgh: "People got more riled by the word 'fuck' than the politics of the situation"

The stars of the Scottish comedy scene decided to pitch in with Occupy Edinburgh last weekend, in the only way they know how: by cracking jokes and swearing at children.

Feature by Barrie Morgan | 21 Dec 2011

2011 has been a year for the underdogs. A year when people have stood up to their oppressors, from Egypt to Wall Street, Libya to Edinburgh. Time magazine's iconic Person Of The Year has been awarded to 'The Protester', the people that stay out in the cold and hold their beliefs and morales as importantly as most hold their bank account or job status. In this spirit of revolution, local comedian Rick Molland co-organised an event with Liam McDonnell "as a Christmas present to the protesters", aimed to reward and remind in equal measure. We caught up with Molland for a brief chat.

"Pretty much, everything was against us - if there's a list of things not to do when running a comedy gig then we just did them all. Gigging at 2pm is a bad idea, most of the comedians aren't normally up by then. Then get 15 acts together, on a Saturday afternoon outdoors in December, freezing temperature, no seating, borrowed equipment, one week before Christmas with shoppers wandering past! What the hell could go wrong?" Indeed, the gig did have the feel of a protest in itself. It beautifully captured that essence, the comedy was haphazard with most comedians tailoring already existing material to the Occupants or scrapping everything and freewheeling.

And when comedians freewheel, they curse, which was bound to upset someone in the middle of a public square in Edinburgh. During Bob Graham's wonderfully anarchic set on unemployment a passing father had enough and tolld him to stop swearing. Bob handled the situation perfectly by agreeing and apologising, and the man moved on. Molland's opinion on this kind of outburst is refreshingly unapologetic however, "Biggest complaint of the day was our language, which is fucking hilarious when you think about it. People got more riled by the word 'fuck' than by the politics of the situation. It says so much about the times we live in."

Indeed, it spoke volumes that St. Andrews Square was buzzing all day with shoppers rather than protesters. Few seemed to take interest when passing by but there was still a healthy turn-out for people trying to stand the important things in life. Although being cold for a bit isn't one of them.

"You watched the show for a couple of hours and saw just how cold it got, now picture living in that weather in a tent. That thought was always at the back of my mind, I'm basically going to be doing two to three hours here - what right do I have to moan about the weather or the fact that the gig was a tough situation? I think all the acts really came on board with that idea. I'm really proud of the support that Scottish comedy showed. The backing I got was immense, I can't thank them enough. I'd also like to thank everyone who came down to watch and show some solidarity with the protesters".

As a final word I asked Molland how this rated in terms of the weird gigs he's played, and how he thought it went, "How it went? Well there's nothing to judge it against really, I had fun, it was appreciated by the protesters. How on earth do you judge the success of something like this? I think I've just played the most memorable gig of my life. I'm pretty fucking happy. It's right up there in terms of weird gigs, there's not many gigs where you manage to teach a child the meaning of the word 'rimjob'."


Photos of the event with music from The Alex Salmond Gastric Band.


Like underground revolutionary comedy? Keep an eye on http://politigiggle.com for details of secret monthly gigs happening around Edinburgh. Edinburgh continues to be Occupied. More info on their site: http://occupyedinburgh.org/