Particularly when compared to the polite folk of Edinburgh, Glaswegians have a reputation for talking. Loads. Des Clarke, who grew up in one of the city’s much-maligned tower blocks, certainly matches the stereotype, in that he simply doesn’t stop. How he fits in time to breathe is amazing enough; that he is consistently, and sharply funny is all the more incredible.
Nominally this show is about the journey from his birth to here, but Clarke’s never far from the topical; understandably, much of his opening 10 minutes is focused on the Olympics and the success of fellow Scots such as Chris Hoy and Andy Murray. However, it is equally forward-looking, not least when considering how the organisers of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow must be feeling after a certain Opening Ceremony devised by Danny Boyle. Clarke also shows just how he can think quickly his feet, whether it’s welcoming latecomers into the room or responding to a slightly dodgy microphone as revenge for comments about North Korea.
Admittedly Clarke’s routine seldom strays from safe topics: jokes about either the trams or the two pandas at Edinburgh Zoo are to be expected, while complaints about the weather are surely mandatory. He also covers family eccentricities, the problems in personal relationships, Glaswegian bigotries, the challenges of remembering your many pin numbers and passwords, plus the weird things we accept about hairdressers, dentists and opticians.
It’s all done at breakneck speed so his audience often has little time to breathe between laughs. Yet, thanks to his choice of subjects and his upbeat, self-deprecatory tone - “That’s a clever joke,” he says at one point. “Unusual for me.” - there’s never a sense of scattergun repetition.
The final destination of this particular comedic journey is only a few weeks ago, when Clarke followed Scottish actor James McAvoy in the Olympic Torch Relay through Glasgow. Genuinely touching and yet also incredibly funny, it’s a masterclass in how to structure and breathe comedic life into a moment and definitely leave the audience wanting more.