Ally Houston: Shandy

It’s hard to find an adjective that fully describes Ally Houston’s Shandy. Weird, subversive, dysfunctional… all these come close to describing this unique hour of stand-up, music and performance comedy.

His sense of humour is wonderfully twisted and off-kilter, and his songwriting skills are second to none.

It follows a fictional Houston and his pet clown Shandy, who he abuses on a regular basis. It’s an interesting premise and the way the show is presented in its first few minutes shows a lot of promise. It’s a shame therefore that Shandy never gets past being something other than merely intriguing.

I say this because Ally Houston is a comedian who appeals to me; his stand-up, if you can call it that, is dry and deadpan, his sense of humour is wonderfully twisted and off-kilter, and his songwriting skills are second to none. This makes for an undoubtedly entertaining first third.

Yet despite Houston’s best efforts, Shandy quickly loses steam. While Houston’s lack of energy is appealing at first, it quickly becomes tired in a show that promises to take its audience in weird and wonderful directions, but ends up on the same note on which it began. It works wonderfully over 20 minutes; over an hour it’s a bit of a stretch.

It's a frustrating show to watch. Houston clearly has talent and is carving out a dead-pan, psychotic niche for himself. But Shandy, while showcasing his talents, doesn’t propel them. As a result, despite its weirdness, Shandy will end up leaving you more disappointed than confused.

Reviews by Will Roberts

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The Blurb

Light glints from guitar and keyboard. Jokes tumble onto the stage. A clown is born. Glasgow International Comedy Festival 2015 sold out show. Dewy-eyed fun man Ally Houston gives you, in this, his debut hour, a stand-up show that becomes a dark musical odyssey into the mind of its creator, which examines the relationship between Ally and his mysterious pet clown Shandy. 'A fantastic line in dry Chic Murray-esque idiocy. This boy deserves to go very far' (Sanjeev Kohli).