Scottish Comedy Reviews

Raymond Mearns - Recovering Asshole

Ed Fringe 2007 reviewed by Alan Sharp

Late at night in one of the more intimate venues, and featuring a beer-bellied Glaswegian with a spectacularly bad haircut, this is definitely a show aimed at the more inebriated crowd. Taking general assholery as a theme, Mearns begins by explaining how, approaching his fortieth birthday, he has recently come to the realisation that he is indeed an asshole, and that this fact has hitherto been concealed from him by the fact that there was always someone around who was an even bigger asshole than he was.

Raymond Mearns comes across as an old fashioned workingmen’s club style gag comic trying to squeeze himself into the mould of the more modern observational style. Entering the room to a medley of Beatles music, you immediately get the sense that there is going to be nothing new or “cutting edge” on display, and you would not be wrong. It aims squarely at the “my mother in law is so fat” school of humour, going for the quick, cheap laugh with little by way of subtlety or sophistication.

But there are moments when Mearns shows that he has the ability to be more than just a workmanlike gagsmith. Moments when he suddenly and without warning veers into the leftfield, such as a bizarre digression to provide at technical explanation of why changes in barometric pressure can cause fluctuations in the speed of sound, before announcing “see, I do my research,” and then launching into yet another tale of drinking seventeen pints and vomiting on the carpet.

But those few moments aside, most of what is on display here is old, tired and derivative, and anyone who has been around the comedy circuit for a while will have heard routines about acting as a taxi driver for his daughter or sharing a sauna with naked Germans a hundred times before, and often done much better. Mearns is the kind of comic that, were he to appear for a twenty minute set on the bill of a club night, might go down very well, but over an hour his appeal stretches very thin.