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Edinburgh Fringe 2019

Happy Britain Part 1: Adventures of a Happy Man

Aidan Goatley

Genre: Comedy

Venue: Sweet Grassmarket


Low Down

Is Britain happy? Are we trapped in a bubble of despair? Comedian Aidan Goatley is on a mission to find out by going to the centre of all 105 counties in the UK and asking a simple question, ‘What makes you happy?’


This show had to change its name… ‘Happy Britain’ apparently suggested to some that we were headed into a Brexit inspired socio-political angry rant, and there’s no shortage of that at the moment.  So this title had to change to ‘Adventures of a Happy Man’, for Brexit pain is not Goatley’s bag at all – he is positive, engaging, light touch humour, heart-warming, comic and poignant in equal measure.

Following his international hit show ’10 Films with my Dad’, Aidan Goatley decides to counter the gloom of despondency in the country by trying to find out what makes people happy.  From Her Majesty the Queen (“Faith and Family”) through to the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond via 105 counties – his self appointed task being to visit every corner of the UK and go beyond the headlines, the rhetoric and the politics to find out what really inspires us.

This delightful, simple conceit allows Goatley to tell us stories, some amusing, some very funny, some affecting and moving. The challenge proves too much for his car, which died in Devon, but not for his irrepressible good nature and humour.  A self deprecating hour of humble, modestly delivered comedy, a rare combination, offers a genuine feel good haven from the cynicism of the late fringe.  This is not a gag-fest but a warm, enveloping, utterly engaging yarn that leads to a remarkably happy conclusion, which one can only feel is very well deserved.  The audience, including a loyal group of friends, fellow artists and venue managers, lapped it up, as I did. This is a genuine gem, a piece deserving of finding a wider audience country wide as Goatley preaches his non-aligned gospel of positivity to a country that appears to be pulling itself apart.  His joy in little stories, longer episodes, and even a rendition of William McGonnagal’s poem The Tay Bridge Disaster: (“Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv’ry Tay! Alas! I am very sorry to say. That ninety lives have been taken away.”) – the Dundee section of his ‘tour’ would make a show just in itself.

This is a fun, good natured show. The project continues and I will look forward to hearing the next chapter and highly recommend anyone to immerse themselves in Goatley’s warm humour and sunny outlook.