Bounding on stage after the audience has been serenaded by Clubland-esque renditions of Christmas songs, the W.H.A.T. boys prove to be painfully Glaswegian. Decked out in tracksuits and trainers whilst giving empty cans of lager as audience Xmas presents, the dynamics between our quartet are quickly established due to economical writing and broad character sketching. Both guitars placed at the side of the stage are swiftly taken up and lines like “ma da’s on the dole, ma ma’s a bint, I’m fucking skint” set the style and tone.
The sort of guys who all give each other a Lynx shower set as presents (“same as last year”), Gregor Mackay has the air of a mischievous trickster as he transgressively dances to Mariah Carey and tricks his friend into giving him a kiss under the mistletoe. Jack Jarvis Gouther nails the macho posturing which reaches such levels of parody it inadvertently becomes camp when angry. Conor Hardie is dependable and interestingly excels when playing an actor with airs and graces; OTT enunciation and bizarre movement being well-received by the audience. Elliot Hannigan encapsulates the simmering rage of a heckled father to leg-spreading disinterest of a Ned like it’s second nature to him.
The sketches come thick and fast, with slick transitions ensuring all four performers never let the energy dip. The content, however, is rather mixed. Some sketches are brilliant (stranded passengers singing an ode about the terrible service of Scotrail), with the quasi-advert championing a Glaswegian version of Trivial Pursuit proving to be a highlight. Others tend to peter out courtesy of left-field punchlines which don’t hit their mark (“turkey titties” springs to mind), while some are so underdeveloped they feel frustratingly superfluous. The Mary and Joseph sketch is a prime example of this, with the sight of a dragged-up Hannigan providing the only “female” presence on stage. Behaving like a hormonal Scottish version of Vicky Pollard, it made me wish for more of their take on the opposite sex.
Mainly aimed at an appreciative youthful demographic, at times the appeal didn’t feel broad enough. The acoustics in Cottiers Theatre didn’t help, with some sections difficult to hear. Coupled with quite a few sketches which missed their mark either due to underdevelopment or bizarrely flat punch-lines, Jingle Baws proves to be a frustratingly mixed bag. There’s definitely something there, but Xmas-themed sketches didn’t manage to fully tease it out.