Jack Docherty: Nothing But
- Brian Donaldson
- 23 August 2021
A funny and sad Fringe trawl through an Edinburgher's life and career that has both regret and courage at its core
Once upon a time Jack Docherty was quite the media darling. After scoring a cult success as part of Channel 4's surreal sketch show Absolutely, the Scotsman headed over to Channel 5 when it launched in 1997 to front The Jack Docherty Show. The new fresh-faced broadcaster was aiming to hit the ground running with a Letterman-style late-nighter, and across two years on air, it scored the likes of John Peel, Spice Girls and David Bowie as guests. But when its laconic host began to shy away from his duties, it became Not The Jack Docherty Show, featuring an array of one-off hosts.
Among the reasons given for Docherty's extended absenteeism was the school holidays. The child he would have looked after at those times plays a significant part in Nothing But, a one-man recollection of his own life and times. But this is not merely a trawl through his stage and TV CV, instead it courageously zeroes in on his own failures chiefly as a dad, as a husband and as a friend. Docherty is also not shy at portraying his own apparent decrepitude, showing us an image of him as a younger man while patting his tummy in deference to the natural passing of time and the way our own body can betray us.
His fall into disgrace is prompted by a rush of love (or lust) for a woman he spies in the audience at a late 80s Fringe comedy where he is appearing with his longstanding colleague and buddy Moray Hunter. And while the affair doesn't really come to anything, it leaves his soul tainted and when a (much) later attempt to rekindle this romance drops in his lap, nostalgia and regret destabilise any good intentions he may still have.
In this slick production, Docherty seamlessly moves between various time zones from boyhood in Edinburgh when he learned valuable lessons in disappointment to later relations with his daughter, wife, former lover, and young comedy bucks stomping on his turf, all of whom leave him wallowing in pretty much the same emotion. Often funny and occasionally a little sad, Nothing But proves Jack Docherty to be an amiable and entertaining raconteur, never ducking from being both goodie and baddie in his own story.
Jack Docherty: Nothing But, Gilded Balloon Teviot, until Sunday 29 August (not Thursday 26), 7pm, £13–£14.