Des Clarke’s advice for comedians coming to perform in Glasgow

He’s one of the few to have performed at every year of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival, so what advice would he have given the Des Clarke about to appear in its first ever year?

Talking to STV in the atypically fearsome sunny March weather that’s taken grip of both Glasgow and the rest of the country, Des answered: “If I was going to give myself advice, it would be ‘wear suncream when you’re doing interviews outside on a sunny day in Glasgow’. We’re not used to it!

“I think I’d probably just do the same thing. I don’t think I’d change anything, I’d just go with it and enjoy it more. Because I’ve done so many different gigs as part of this comedy festival.

“I’ve done the community tours, I remember my first one was in Blackfriars, I’ve done the Oran Mor, I’ve done support slots at the Kings, I’ve done the Citizens Theatre and the Gorbals where I’m from, and I don’t think I’d change anything. I’m quite happy that I’ve down all the gigs that were offered to me, and played to so many Glasgow audience members over the years – and they provide entertainment themselves.”

What about those who are coming to Glasgow to play a show, and may be worried about the infamous reputation audiences in the city held?

Des said: “It’s funny playing this festival, and I think what is good is that it’s a bit of an education for those not from Glasgow or even Scotland, because the old Glasgow audience reputation was ‘take no prisoners’, they’re very hard on you.

“Maybe that still exists, but I’ve actually experienced it as really friendly. They’re really honest. Sometimes they’ll just sit very stony faced, and at the end they’ll say ‘good gig old chap’. In Glasgow they’ll let you know right away if they love you or they don’t like you, and they like to be interactive.

“That doesn’t mean aggression – some people mistake it for that. But that’s a Glasgow thing, people are just maybe a bit more in your face, that’s just being friendly. I think the audiences tend to be very supportive, and certainly for me who’s from Glasgow, they’ve got behind me as one of their own as well. They’re very welcoming.”

As for his advice to those arriving here to perform, he explained: “For any comedian who comes to Glasgow, don’t try and go in too hard.

“I see that a lot, because it’s got this reputation as in the past it was quite tough. There’s the old stories about guys going on at the legendary Apollo venue in Glasgow; Mike and Bernie Winters – I think Mike was dying, then Bernie came on and somebody in the audience went ‘Oh God, there’s two of them’. There’s so many stories, Des O’Connor fainting and stuff like that. But that’s the old days.

“I think with stuff like that in mind a lot of comedians come from down south and elsewhere and think they have to be so aggressive, and they always go in too hard. They hear the first bit of chat or shout from the audience and think they have to really put them down, and be very sweary and go into them with this real aggression. You don’t have to do that.

“The audience like honesty, and if you just try not to be too pretentious – or try not to fake what you are – if you’re not that aggressive generally don’t be that. If you’re honest with a Glasgow crowd you’ll get the best response from them.”

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