John Scott presents a well-prepared set with two distinctly political themes to an audience split quite literally in two. The Kasbar comprises a stage with chairs arranged at right angles which splits the audience into two separate groups – a move which initially threatens to overwhelm the night’s proceedings. In ensuring that he engages both sides of the room, his comic muscles seem a little stretched and at times he has to remind the crowd that “this is not a rally”, as certain punchlines are met with cheers instead of the more favourable sound of laughter.
Scott gets stuck into the current government, elitism, Trump, critics of Corbyn and his own take on the chequered history of mental health provision in the UK, all the while adding his own Scottish spin. He links austerity and cuts to welfare to his own struggles with wellness but reserves true anger for Conservative government insensitivity and inhumane handling of disability, as he presents an elegant metaphor of an ailing pigeon (with one wing) failing the occupational assessment and only passing it once it has died.
His inclusion of his journey through an initial diagnosis of schizophrenia which then was re-diagnosed some years later as bi-polar could represent an original viewpoint within political comedy, but unfortunately the standard of the material is not consistent. Perhaps a greater focus on his own perception of mental health challenges would bolster this set, but instead it is diluted by understandable but somewhat rote indignation of the current political landscape, which leads to the aforementioned cheers instead of guffaws.
For every interestingly presented observation (see ailing pigeon above) there is a more facile jibe; “I thought Brexit was what happens when a fat bird sits on a chair”. The lively room was perfectly content with the mix of satirical political observations and mental health anecdotes and with the right audience, Scott will deliver a satisfying show.