What lengths would you go to just to taste a dram of whisky? Would you beg for it? Steal for it? Endure an hour of atrocious comedy for it?
These are the questions you must ponder before purchasing a ticket to Whisky for Dafties, a colloquial introduction to the water of life. The show promises a fine blend of history infused with comedic bursts – bursts that arrive about as often as a tax rebate.
Free whisky it shouts. Six different kinds it screams. Well, there's certainly whisky, and plenty of it at that, but will you get any? ‘Yes’ is the short answer, but not until you've spent the better part of an hour choking for a dram, having assumed that the audience weren’t supposed to bring their own alcohol to an alcohol show. The bar may be selling, but who’s buying? You’ve just spent £12 on a show about whisky – surely a lagniappe in the form of some lubrication isn’t too much to ask?
There’s nothing wrong with the concept of using humour to recount the origins of Scotland’s national drink, a tipple that is revered alongside such iconic beverages as Irn-Bru and Buckfast wine. There’s everything wrong with the execution of this concept however. Like a cheap blend, Whisky for Dafties has some low notes to it and leaves a bitter aftertaste. While there are a few laughs to be had, these are largely reliant upon audience participation. Why should we have to do all the hard work?
As anyone who’s dined at a Christian soup kitchen will attest, there’s no such thing as a free lunch – you always end up paying for it in the form of God. Hey, that cabbage soup has to be subsidised somehow. Similarly, if you wish to taste any of the aforementioned whisky you must first put yourself in the spotlight, commenting on the usquebaugh by suggesting what you would associate it with and why. Doesn't sound hard, does it? Well, it is when a comedian can’t improvise and thus insults audience members when they simply can't answer.
Barman, make that a double of mortification topped up with a dash of uh-uh-you-didn’t.
Some scripted jokes are thrown in to sweeten things up – with plenty of toilet humour and even a little dancing – but at best it’s more reminiscent of pub banter than £12 a head comedy.
Speaking of pubs, you could take that £12 and sample two single malts in one of Edinburgh's finest watering holes – they'll last you an hour and you can enjoy some proper banter with the locals, who ought to know more about whisky than anyone. After all, ‘locals’ is just a polite term for ‘alcoholics’, and in Scotland, a nation with more than its fair share of locals, there’s no better place to learn about whisky than down the pub.
If the intention of Whisky for Dafties is to boost sales of the amber nectar, then in that respect at least it is successful – after enduring this show, you will experience an overwhelming urge to hit the nearest boozer and start chugging back single malt in an effort to obliterate all memory of the event. About two bottles should do the trick.