Comedy: Glee opening night
Visitors to the cavernous venue deep beneath the giant Cineworld tower are instantly reminded that this is Glasgow’s new home of comedy. A large mural, painted by local artist Michael Scott, and featuring Billy Connolly, Kevin Bridges and Frankie Boyle, serves as a reminder of one of the city’s greatest strengths: its humour.
Glasgow’s Glee Club in fact occupies the former Jongleurs comedy club and proved a big hit with punters who packed out the first night for a performance by special guest and television favourite Sean Lock.
Founder of the Glee Clubs, Mark Tughan, is already considering adding Thursday nights to the current Friday-Saturday opening times on the back of an enthusiastic response, and there could be even more to come.
“We expect to be opening three nights a week by the end of this year and I would be disappointed if in five years time we were not doing five nights a week,” he told Daily Business.
Also on the opening weekend bill were Jay Lafferty, Geoff Norcott and Gary Little. Other up and coming acts will mix with big names. The clubs have featured the likes of Jimmy Carr, Lee Evans and Sarah Millican.
Tughan, who was attending the first night show, is also keen to put on music events once a week following other Glee Clubs around the country which have hosted the likes of Adele, Edwyn Collins, George Ezra, Mumford & Sons and White Denim.
Glee Clubs, which the Northern Irishman launched in Birmingham 25 years ago, also stage cabaret and spoken word tours, including drag shows, burlesque, book readings and lectures.
So will he be taking the concept to other Scottish cities, such as Edinburgh?
“I would be interested in opening in Edinburgh. There is no doubt about it. But it would have to be in an iconic venue that I could do justice to.”
Sean Lock was listed merely as ‘special guest’ on the flyer though there had been pre-launch publicity about his appearance as the headline act and that surely added to the bumper turnout.
When he sticks to his absurd observations he’s good, but there was too much focus on mockery for my liking. His slaughtering of Richard Branson was a bit over the top.
There are still too many comedians who resort to what is ‘laughingly’ called adult humour but is in fact playground humour. Give me the story-telling of Dave Allen or Les Dawson’s rapid fire gags over Lafferty’s lavatorial tales about body part selfies.
Gary Little’s routine around his struggle to find a female partner had a nice mix of tragi-comedy, but also sounded too much like a personal sob story. Geoff Norcott got a deserved welcome for his opening line about looking less like a comedian and more like an electrician who’d just jumped up on stage. He just nudged best act for me.
The Glee is a big venue, capable of hosting 400 seated and 800 standing and if the big names keep coming there is no reason why it should not succeed in a city like Glasgow.
The setting is cabaret-style with food served to tables, though the mix of scampi, pizza and burgers was reminiscent of a 70s Berni Inn. As fast food goes, this was tasty and plentiful.