Vladimir McTavish’s cynical look back at Scotland’s past spans from the fourteenth century to the present day, examining the successes and failures of kings and governments, as well as such varied topics as the sinister origins of the names of Edinburgh pubs and the state of television programming past midnight.
It is the way in which he often chooses to illustrate and elaborate on the points that moves his comedy to new heights.
McTavish moves effortlessly along this timeline with a series of clever and sharp jokes and anecdotes; his cynicism and bite a great contrast to the warmth with which he addresses his audience. Moving through Scotland’s history at such a brisk pace may seem a challenge at first, but McTavish is able to highlight the key moments of Scotland’s history which helped to change the country, as well as focussing on 2015 and what this year will mean for the history books. A lot was made, as may be expected, of last year’s Referendum but McTavish reassures us that, no matter whether one was happy or disappointed with the result, being disappointed is just part of what it means to be Scottish, whether that be with the result of the Referendum, or living in certain parts of the country.
Although the way in which McTavish describes the events of Scotland’s past is entertaining enough in and of itself, it is the way in which he often chooses to illustrate and elaborate on the points that moves his comedy to new heights. From an imagined conversation between King Robert the Bruce and a soldier if the Battle of Bannockburn was cancelled due to rain, to McTavish’s impression of a speaker at an upper class Burns’ Supper, his voice acting adds yet another layer of brilliance to an already clever set. The greatest strength of McTavish’s show, however, lies in his political satire, in which he chastises and ridicules, among others, opinion polls, the Labour Party, leaders’ debates and the Scottish Conservatives. A particular highlight of this was his hypothetical scenarios of a ‘gangster state’, with hitmen filling in risk assessments and needing to fill in a myriad of forms to get drugs from your local council.
McTavish states that there are few things more depressing than a Scottish winter, apart from a Scottish summer. Do yourself a favour and avoid that inevitability, for an hour at least, by going to see his show. It may be cynical and at times verge on the despondent, but at least it’s funny, unlike the weather.