Dream Gig: Ian Smith

Edinburgh Comedy Award nominated stand-up and co-host of Northern News podcast, Ian Smith has a Dream Gig to rival U2's Las Vegas residency

Article by Ian Smith | 13 Feb 2024
  • Ian Smith's Dream Gig Illustration

The most fun I’ve had at a gig was at a venue in-the-round – there’s something about enforced rotational movement and the chance of sneaky heckles from behind that adds energy and excitement to your performance. Therefore, I’d ideally take things one step further and perform in-the-sphere.

Admittedly, this would pose problems in terms of the seating arrangement, with some sections of the audience being upside down throughout the gig, their heads becoming increasingly filled with both blood and regret – the lower section would undoubtedly leave with severe neck-ache and potentially some vomit from the upper section on their clothes. I must admit, I see why no theatres have attempted this so far. The best option would be every audience member riding a motorbike around me like the wall of death stunt – but this would no doubt be scuppered by some jobsworth health and safety officer coming down on us like a ton of bricks (or an actual ton of actual motorbikes). 

Admitting defeat, I would like the gig to be in the old theatre space at the end of my street in my home town of Goole. I did my first ever performance there as part of a sketch group with two school friends. It’s currently a martial arts training centre and at one point was used as a furniture storage facility – but let’s whack that raked seating back in there! I wouldn’t mind there being a few sofas in the background too. I love a performance space that’s perfect in terms of shape, ceiling-height and capacity for comedy, but where it’s clear comedy is not the venue’s primary purpose. A gig in a brewery, carpet shop and a hot tub salesroom are personal highlights so far.

I’ve never worked with Johnny Vegas – he’s a comedy hero of mine, so I’d like him to close the show. Ideally, refusing to come off stage after his set time and having to be wrestled off by an out of their depth security team, while still making everybody laugh. I’d like the line-up to be completed by Maisie Adam and Markus Birdman – I’ve travelled to Australia with them twice as part of Best of the Edinburgh Fest and became good friends with them both. They’re fantastic comedians, but I’d largely like to be in a green room with them, taking the piss out of each other with the brutality and specificity in which only good friends can.

I’d also like there to be an event which means the venue becomes unusable halfway through the gig – something to make the night stick in people’s minds. A flood, a fire alarm, or perhaps some Japanese knotweed has attacked an audience member. We’d have to bring the gig out on to the streets, passers-by would join the crowd, the audience building into well beyond the capacity of our taekwondo-furniture-storage-facility-comedy club, so that in the interval we have to traipse across town looking for a bigger space. After stopping off at La Bodrum for takeaway food, the audience would be led to Goole’s state of the art new theatre, The Junction. It’s at least triple the capacity (their tagline, not mine)!

When we arrive, there’d be a play rehearsing before their opening night, but we outnumber the cast and negotiate a controversial venue swap (which they are not at all happy about). They shout obscenities as they scuttle off to their new venue, their thespian projection skills meaning we can hear their insults from an impressive distance. The gig now has a set on stage that doesn’t correlate to anything that’s going on which only helps the buzz in the room. I’ve done some of my favourite gigs in theatres when there’s a set that can’t be taken down. Nothing helps comedy more than some MDF trees, a poorly painted backdrop and the giddy feeling that people are in the wrong place. It's a crying shame more comedy clubs don’t utilise this.

After the gig, we’d stay in the green room and hang out until the venue staff ask to leave so they can see their families again. I’d make my way home, only to be confronted at the end of my street by the cast of the play we moved on – they’ve all learned taekwondo and they’re very angry.

Ian Smith: Crushing, Club 45 @ Blackfriars Glasgow, 22 Feb, 8pm; Monkey Barrel, Edinburgh, 24 Feb, 8pm, both £13