Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Gary Little: Just Trying to Be Friendly, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
Gary Little is the quintessential Scottish club comic, headlining gigs across the country and elsewhere, receiving little media scrutiny and few broadcast opportunities.
The first to admit to being a bit of a rough diamond with a chequered criminal past, dry humour about his incarceration only adds to the prowess of a comic who’s as uncompromising in his opinions as he is forward about his mistakes, the two melding in his lifelong, misguided refrain that his adversaries “prove it”.
Worried about the only type of women he can attract at 52, his opening gambit flirts with sexism but has brutal equality too. Approaching the recusant US style of take-me-as-I-am comedy exemplified by Louis CK and Bill Burr, arguing you round to seemingly illiberal viewpoints with an informed, simmeringly angry take on the self-pity of Alcoholics Anonymous, Little elides offence and a charge of punching down, because he’s an authentic voice in the established Scottish storytelling tradition.
Brought up in a deprived, four-storey Maryhill tenement with a shared outside toilet for all the residents, the big ex-con attracts warmth by bringing to life his daft, easily led childhood self, less likely to trouble the authorities for delinquency as bed-wetting. A gullible kid, he shares the little white lies his parents told him with amusing, escalating incredulity. Still, he marvels at how he and his friends were somehow bang on the money regarding Jimmy Savile.
Fuelling an anti-establishment feeling and libertarian perspective that extends to the BBC, AA, Westminster and the Catholic Church, such flashes of anger add charge to his otherwise easily relatable routines. Thoughts on Jesus being a “bevvy merchant” are less satisfying. Yet he imagines some hilarious outcomes from obscure US sex laws and his account of his mother’s funeral arrangements is an emotional draw with observational truth rather than overt sentimentality.
The Stand Comedy Club (Venue 5A) until 30 August
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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