Live Review: Iain Stirling, The Stand, Glasgow Comedy Festival

Somehow I’ve managed to miss Iain Stirling’s TV career. That might be because his main appearances have been on ITV2’s Love Island (not as a contestant, doing voiceover) and on children’s TV. I don’t really fit into the demographic for either of these shows. But Stirling is clearly an accomplished stand-up too, as his current show, Onwards, underlines. 

It probably helped a little that Stirling is Scottish and he was playing a small club as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival, but he is the kind of comedian who makes an immediate connection with his audience, chatting away to the front row and, on this night in particular, skilfully closing down a couple of young women who weren’t heckling, just relating to his material so much that they couldn’t stop talking to each other about it.

It’s both a strength and a weakness then that Stirling’s material is very accessible. For regular comedy fans the subjects might feel familiar, but he is certainly very good at selling his topics, whether it is bemoaning his lack of success compared to his peers, discussing property prices, worrying about getting fat or being bemused that his mates who are now becoming parents bizarrely like their new babies more than than they like him.

He is particularly good on the subject of millennials. Is the current younger generation just soft or is it all their mum and dad’s fault for indulging their every whim, he asks. Are they just emoji and selfie-obsessed arseholes who feel too entitled or have they drawn the short straw in life?  

While many of his routines are universal he often adds a neat personal touch. When talking about his own TV fame he points out that it is very different to the fame of TV presenters in the 1980s and 1990s. Certainly in terms of pay rates. While they could afford hookers and cocaine, he jokes, he can barely afford his studio flat. The glamour of television is clearly not what it was. 

Stirling seems to be at that interesting stage in his career where he might land a big presenting gig and move away from stand-up or he might start appearing on panel shows and build up a head of steam that enables him to play bigger venues. I’m hoping it’s the latter. I’m not judging him for taking the jobs he does though – it’s all exposure and he’s got to pay for that studio flat somehow.

At times in his set - particularly when he does a cockney accent – he reminded me of Russell Kane, another comedian who has been in danger of being caught between stand-up and presenting stools. Kane seems to be negotiating a successful path through this tricky terrain at the moment. Let’s hope Stirling can do the same.

More about Iain Stirling, gigs etc, here

Glasgow Comedy Festival runs until March 26. Details here.

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