Tristan reviews the comedian's much-anticipated return to the Glasgow stage.
In late March, comedian Stuart Mitchell performed his much-delayed tour show Is it Just Me? at the Oran Mor in the heart of Glasgow’s West End to an anticipatory audience. It was a welcome night of comedy after a long period of postponements and delays for the gig that was originally scheduled for the Glasgow Comedy Festival in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic. Mitchell playfully highlighted the irony of unknowingly giving the show the title Is It Just Me? before two years of enforced social isolation we have all experienced.
It was third time lucky for a comedian who has been building up a presence on the Scottish comedy scene since his successful debut at the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This period of uncertainty played a pivotal role in his gig. He skillfully combined hilarious anecdotes with witty one-liners, all the while explaining what he has been up to in the past couple of years. His gig displayed the versatility of an innovative comic mind which is not surprising given his ability to write and tailor sketches for others. He effortlessly brought up topics ranging from the personal to the vulgar, while always maintaining the cynicism, timing, and charm of a master of his craft. Such was his range, there was something in it for everyone in the audience which is a rare feat.
Carrying his audience through a timeline that has had its fair share of personal tragedy in the form of bereavements, Mitchell epitomised the old notion of comedy being a coping mechanism for all. Testament to his storytelling, relatable subject matter, and often sympathetic tone, his much-delayed gig provided a welcome respite in the strange and worrying times we find ourselves in. The audience, many of whom have only begun to return to pre-covid normality, soaked up the gags and relished in an evening of laughter.
Knowing this audience, he played the room well with the Scottish based humour he is known for. There was space in his show for playing on the peculiarities of being Scottish and what it entails when going abroad. A proportion was also dedicated to describing his house move from East Kilbride to Biggar and then hilariously contrasting the two places, which worked well on a night where most of the audience were native Scots. He simultaneously charmed and shocked the audience with anecdotes from his domestic life. A domestic life that includes an elderly stepparent, a marriage to a fellow artist - a TV presenter – and a new baby, was ripe for comedic pickings and Mitchell played it well.
He has a soft and affectionate manner when he playfully interacts with his audience and his show on Friday was no different. Such was his delivery, it felt as though the entire gig was an hour-long conversation with a friend which left the audience wanting more.
Mitchell’s rise to prominence may have been stunted by the pandemic, but he has built a presence on social media and thanks to his return to gigging and judging by the audience’s reaction to Is it Just Me? many will be excited to see the resumption of Stuart Mitchell’s stand-up career. Even with Covid aside, the last few years have been a period of transition for the former banker. But what is for certain is that he has quickly found his feet in comedy and is beginning to pick up his stride.
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