Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Jimmy McGhie is a likeable, affable presence, with a pleasant demeanour that makes him a very watchable guy. His set is warm and chatty, and he establishes an easy camaraderie with his audience from the very beginning.
McGhie is a largely anecdotal comedian whose material is centered on incidents in which he has felt intellectually inferior to the person he was talking to. The central gag is a very clever series of instructions on how to get away with chatting to an interlocutor who is far more intelligent than you are. The strength of this section is how recognisable it is, making it a clever take on observational comedy, and furthermore we get a hands-on demonstration when an audience member is given a script containing some pretty high-fallutin’ political opinions as McGhie demonstrates how to respond.
There is a section devoted to taking the piss out of Professor Brian Cox (McGhie worked as a runner for his BBC program), which is a prime example of when to deploy the blagging techniques previously outlined. McGhie also talks about a general experience of feeling a little bit intellectually unequal to his peers, such as his high-achieving siblings; it is a good tactic for getting the audience on-side as there are very few people who haven’t experienced the feeling of inferiority one time or another. There’s another delightful gag in which he impersonates his coach at the gym, who is constantly ribbing him for not having “jokes”. His strong suit is definitely in accents and voices, which he does with panache, especially when relating stories about relationships and his university days. He often lowers his voice as well, which draws us in as though he’s letting us part in his secrets, and it’s not used often enough by comedians.
I enjoyed this set, and it is definitely a strong, if not uproarious piece of stand-up comedy. You may not bust a gut spending an evening with Jimmy, but you won’t go home dissatisfied either.