Fred MacAulay (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

Fred MacAulay

credit: BBC Scotland

The dependable Fringe regular shows his talent as a raconteur

Celebrating a quarter century of consecutive Fringes, Fred MacAulay is one of the most dependable Scottish comedians around. Playing this year in the Assembly Ballroom, he initially feels disconnected from the audience and his early forays into banter feel like more of an effort that usual. It might be partly down to the venue, which doesn’t really suit his brand of intimate storytelling.

Things settle down once MacAulay tucks into his set, with fiercely parochial and patriotic routines on Scottish independence, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon win and Donald Trump’s controversial project to build a golf course on the Aberdeenshire coast. MacAulay knows his audience well and he takes great delight in gently cajoling them about subjects he knows they’ll relate to, so there’s plenty of material on retirement, cruising and age. But then occasionally, from out of nowhere and as if he’s testing the waters, he’ll throw in something that audibly discomfits the room: a few nasty gags that feel like they’ve escaped from someone else’s show.

That said, MacAulay is a fantastic raconteur and when he has the crowd enrapt he is capable of pushing their boundaries further than they’d care to admit, particularly with one routine about swearing which goes down a storm.

Fred MacAulay: 25 Fringes

  • 4 stars

Fred MacAulay / The Assembly Rooms. With mixed feelings, Fred looks back at Fringe brochure entries and reviews: From rising star of Scottish comedy, to veteran. But it all adds up to something resembling a career and in a precarious business, longevity! 'I never expected to be at the Fringe in 2013. It was a dream.