It’s been a grand Fringe for Scott Gibson. He started it as an impressive last-minute stand-in for Fred McAuley at the Gilded Balloon launch event, and ended it winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. A bright future looks assured.
Seven years ago it certainly didn’t. When young Gibson arrived back in Glasgow from a stag weekend in Blackpool, he was struck by a stroke. Manfully and stupidly making out he was alright, he originally sent the ambulance men away, meaning it was four days before he was properly diagnosed, and weeks until the medics could complete their surgery. This show is the story of the stag-do, the stroke, and the medical treatment, told with relish and a lack of embarrassment at the mucky practicalities of bodily fluids and functions.
Regardless of the subject matter, Gibson’s good-natured Glaswegian joshing was always going to be a winner. He credits the stroke with forcing him to do what he’d always wanted to do – stand-up. Somehow, you think he’d have done it anyway. He doesn’t need to hurry into his story, he’s getting laughs teasing newcomers. “Sit yersel’ doon here, big man. Mind the fuckin’ stage, it cost me five grand.”
The story itself is told pretty straight. It’s a relief he doesn’t use the opportunity to praise the sainted NHS, as many would have. That’s all understood – worthy, but not funny. Instead, he goes the opposite way. He loves the ambulance staff for being unfazed by anything, but he paints them as an odd-looking bunch of knuckle-draggers. A&E receptionists are cold-hearted jobsworths, junior doctors know-nothing numpties who nearly killed him. But credit where credit’s due – it sounds like he wants to marry his “big, beautiful bastard” of an Indian doctor. No incident isn’t funny – getting bathed, getting operated on, getting blood pumped around his skull. The laughs flow as steadily as the bloodstream.
The one thing that’s missing is the aftermath. There’s nothing about the recovery, which surely must have taken time and had its own funny moments. But he just leaves hospital, tells us it made him follow his stand-up dream, and gives us the “life is short” spiel. It’s a rather abrupt ending.
Then again, after the successful Fringe he’s had you wouldn’t begrudge him rushing off for a celebratory glass of something.