Scottish comedy’s plight is no laughing matter

Amid the coronavirus crisis, grassroots comedy in Scotland faces potential ‘extinction’ without a lifeline from the government, writes Brian Ferguson.

Can you remember the first time you saw yourself reflected back from a television screen or at the cinema?

It’s quite vivid in my memory as an awkward, hapless schoolboy, watching Gregory’s Girl at home in the mid-1980s. I was agog at not how achingly funny it was, from almost the first frame to the last, but also how true to life it felt to the harsh realities of teenage years when almost everything feels like a total mystery.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Gregory’s Girl recently, partly because it is 40 years old next year. It is undoubtedly a touchstone for my generation, but is still seen as one of the greatest Scottish films of all-time. Director Bill Forsyth is revered as one of the nation’s leading filmmakers, not just for Gregory’s Girl, which was famously honoured in the opening ceremony for the London Olympics in 2012, but for his two other best-known movies, Local Hero and Comfort and Joy. All three comfortably fit into the category of comedy.

Yet 40 years on, the current crop of Scottish comics have had to go into battle to try to secure official recognition for their art form for the first time and a share of the £107m lifeline funding to secure the future of arts and culture north of the border. I’ve come across some bizarre scenarios, but the sight of Scottish stand-ups pleading for fair treatment from the government of a country of Billy Connolly, Frankie Boyle, Still Game, Chewin’ the Fat, Elaine C Smith and Karen Dunbar is right up there.

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Recording “Long Time Sun” – Getting It Wrong and Making it Right

Growing up in the Kundalini Yoga community, the Long Time Sun song was woven into the fabric of our lives.  Anyone who has taken a Kundalini Yoga class knows it is sung at the end of every class.  But in our communities, we also sang it at the end of  birthday parties and community gatherings and sometimes even before going to sleep at night.  We sometimes sing it at the end of meetings and to end large events.  It has become a way to close almost anything in a positive way.  I don’t remember where it’s origin story first became a part of our collective consciousness, but many of us thought that these words were an old Scottish blessing:

“May the Long Time Sun Shine Upon You, All Love Surround You, and the Pure Light within you, guide your way on.”

At some point in my teens, I discovered that the words were originally recorded by the Incredible String Band in 1968.  This didn’t initially seem Continue reading