Scott Gibson, Soho Theatre | reviews, news & interviews
Scott Gibson, Soho Theatre
Scott Gibson, Soho Theatre
Award-winning show about a medical calamity
Scott Gibson won best newcomer at last year's Edinburgh Comedy Awards for Life After Death, about the near-fatal brain haemorrhage he had as a 24-year-old in 2009. It happened after the Glaswegian had been to Blackpool for a stag weekend with 11 mates, including the groom “Junkie Steve”. Some rich material for an hour of comedy in there...
He begins by telling us how happy he is to be in London as it's 400 miles from his partner. Oh dear – I thought that kind of joke was the territory of Roy “Chubby” Brown. The story itself starts with that stag weekend and a 72-year-old “Mr Magoo” minibus driver, who didn't crash but drove Gibson and his mates safely to and from Blackpool, where they stayed in a “gay hotel” – ie one run by two gay men. Not for the first time, something is referenced without any apparent relevance to the story, but forms a meandering aside that injects another “ism” into the hour.
There follows a sometimes surreal story about how Gibson ignored crushing headaches after his return home (“I'm a big man, I'm not ill,” he thought). Eventually – after sleeping for four straight days and sending away an emergency ambulance – he went to hospital, by which time he was blind in one eye. Much of it – including how a random chance of fate saved his life – is compelling. When doctors realised how serious his condition was, Gibson was sent to “the European capital of neurology” for surgery; Gibson, by now in a delirious state, thought he might be transferred to Paris or Brussels but was instead taken to the rather more prosaic Govan.
But this material is frustratingly underdeveloped, while other nuggets – such as why only one testicle (not both) was shaved while he was waiting for the operation that saved his life – could be comedy gold but is presented without any real lustre.
It may be that I saw Gibson on an off night, but the ageist and sexist nonsense that runs through the show suggests not, and it's telling of his origins as a club comic before he wrote his debut Edinburgh show. That's a shame because he has a great story to tell and when he actually starts telling it – as opposed to shoe-horning in limp jokes about elderly people, women with “big tits” or having an erection in front of nurses – he's an engaging presence on stage.
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