“That funny blind guy” is how Jamie McDonald gets introduced. It’s the name of his previous Fringe show, his Twitter handle, and a no-nonsense description which suits his no-nonsense comedy. This is honest-to-goodness straight-up stand-up, riffing on the life experiences he has because of his blindness, told with a cheeky Glaswegian twist.
McDonald was a relative latecomer to comedy, and while he may face discrimination for his blindness, he is likely to face outright hostility for his previous career – a corporate banker in London. He knows this, and uses the fact to send up his former colleagues for their Hooray Henry voices and dick-swinging one upmanship when it comes to sales targets. Needless to say, it’s not a career that suited him and over the rest of the set, we get more of a feel for the real McDonald.
He has a way with an anecdote, aided by a candidness about his blindness and how that affects his interactions with others. So a clubbing incident where an ill-advised slut-drop ended in injury ends up with him being “saved” by a bunch of Street Christians (and also meeting his wife, but that’s another story). Another good tale has him trying to locate the correct fresh turd curled out by his dog. With only a white stick to help, temperature’s all important.
Some of his best lines come in a segment on his reassessment for PIP. Lots of comedians have evil government cuts material. Not many of them have this first hand perspective. McDonald plays it lightly, sending up his adviser’s hospital radio voice and the preposterousness of questions about his toileting habits. It’s more refreshing for being jocular rather than polemical, but the same point is effectively made.
Occasionally he drifts into more contentious territory. At a party, he meets a child being raised gender-neutral and is frustrated his blindness means he can’t figure out anything at all about them. It’s told as another blindness story, but exhibits a certain disdain for the practice that other comedians might feel less comfortable expressing. He also drifts into Millennials v Baby Boomers territory. As neither, he is a bit disparaging of both.
McDonald comes across as a man grateful to have escaped banking for a second life in comedy. He doesn’t appear to have a burning drive to revolutionise stand-up or that frantic ambition you sometimes see in younger comics. He seems content just to be man-and-mic, punting funny tales from his life at you, and this mainly Scottish crowd are warmly appreciative.