Tensions are building north of the border. It’s an unspoken rule that you don’t mention the “i” word at parties unless you want a fight on your hands. Heated exchanges between close friends and pub bust-ups have come to be the norm. Scotland is a country divided, and with less than a month until it makes one of the most significant decisions in its history, everyone is caught up in the socio-political shitstorm the question of autonomy heralds. Find shelter from the furore, if only for an hour, under the Assembly Rooms’ decadent rooftops as Vladimir McTavish and Keir McAllister offer a much needed comic release for Ayes and Naws alike.
No matter how you intend on voting, it’s a bold ‘Yes’ to this comedy countdown.
Much like the referendum itself, Aye Right? How No?: The Comedy Countdown to the Referendum is for the people of Scotland. Our pally local hosts lampoon the parties, media and citizens involved in the debate by way of the Edinburgh trams, Still Game and vox pops filmed in Govan. I could imagine if the group of Cumbrians in the audience hadn’t spent much time in our bonnie lands, a lot of the references would be lost on them. It doesn’t matter though, this is a show for the voters. At a time when we need to laugh lest we cry, the event offers an antidote in the form of the warm self-deprecating humour that Scots are known for.
With a rotating series of guests joining McTavish and McAllister everyday, we were treated to uniformly excellent presentations by Propoganda Now, Mark Nelson, Eleanor Morton and - in one of the highlights of the evening - McAllister’s father-in-law, who gave a rousing five minute speech on the power of saying no. You would think that with all these charismatic (and opinionated) performers, the evening must have swung in favour of either the union or separation. The acts were even openly expressing their inclinations. Unbiased, aye right?
Aye right. Though a poll of the room showed a majority of the folk were in the ‘No’ camp, the show worked because everyone’s political idols were fair game. Salmond got it as much as Cameron, Sturgeon as much as Alexander. Narrowly avoiding becoming a pantomime, this mutually assured destruction had the beguiling effect of uniting a divided audience. Whilst politics is deeply personal, comedy is universal and the event was a testament to the power of it to bring people together. By laughing at what we are fighting so passionately for, we could laugh at ourselves. It was therapeutic.
Those looking for a strong polemic element in in Aye Right? How No? would be disappointed, but what they will find is razor-sharp satire at a time when it is desperately needed. No matter how you intend on voting, it’s a bold ‘Yes’ to this comedy countdown.