Greeted with an Irn Bru cocktail and two bottle-blonde lassies in tartan onesies talking about their ‘mam’, it is not difficult to guess the angle that the Mac Twins are going for. Mac Yourself @ Home is a comedy chat show incorporating parlour games like ‘You said Whit?’ in which a hapless guest is made to guess the meanings of Scots words, and ‘Whit’s That Tune’ in which they have to identify modern pop favourites as played on the bagpipes. Clearly Lisa and Alana Macfarlane are ready to squeeze the most obvious features of their heritage for all they’re worth.
It’s a little hard to tell whom the evening is intended to satisfy.
The night kicked off with songs from Jonny Awsum (Sexy Noises), covering the thin walls of Travelodges and the morning after a one-night stand. His confidence and stage presence count for much and he was a good choice to open the show; but his comic material was pretty thin. In this sense the night continued as it began.
Their first real guest, Grant Stott, is well known in Scotland as a radio DJ and panto performer. His face also adorns the sides of Lothian buses. If you knew all this before the show then the interview with him would have been reasonably entertaining. If you are from England, then you would simply have sat patiently until it was over. The house rule which Stott contributed to the Twins’ growing list of comedian’s offerings was ‘Get Pished’. At least the audience seemed to have bought into the spirit of the rule already, so much so that some of the girls’ broad, packing-peanut-soft banter actually landed. The Mac Twins seem to have been cast from a mould, wrapped in cellophane and sold as Buckstone Barbie dolls, although the manufacturer evidently forgot to include the comic material with the peroxide.
Between the two plastic presenters, the second guest Phil Wang (Mellow Yellow) seemed less than wholly comfortable, although at least he possesses the gift of amusing conversation which is so useful for a comedy chat show. His Cambridge background made him something of an easy target, although he made a brave fist of ‘You Said Whit’. His unwise criticism of Buckfast tonic wine provoked a wave of fond reminiscence in everybody else, threatening to drown the evening in tears of tartan. Wang’s house rule, ‘Have a Bloody Good Time’ was a little less than one might expect from such a sharp performer but it fit in well with the flannelly feel of the interview. Compared to the girls’ accounts of their first kisses, however, this was positively electric. Maybe the Twins are so well loved in Edinburgh that they can simply chatter for the best part of an hour about whatever comes to mind, but the audience’s preference for their own conversation suggested otherwise. It was almost a relief to reach the headache-inducing bagpipe music which ended the show and to watch Wang struggle to work out what Happy would sound like if played with only nine notes.
It’s a little hard to tell whom the evening is intended to satisfy. The worn-out stereotypes would suggest an English or American audience, but the humour seems tailored specifically for Edinburghers, with nostalgic references that only a Scot could enjoy. It’s a good thing really that no one from outside Scotland travels to Edinburgh for the festival, otherwise the Mac Twins might risk excluding some of their audience. At least they could always rely on the absolutely universal Scots appetite for bagpipes and Irn Bru. After all, what more could an audience wish for?