The Scottish people, particularly Glaswegians, have a storied history of finding comedy in darker places. From Chic Murray to Billy Connolly, from Frankie Boyle to Kevin Bridges, Scottish comedians can have their cynical, surreal, and hilarious dark sides. Such comedy often comes from the experience of growing up. Billy Connolly, for instance, was a welder on the shipyards and would have for certain enjoyed some gallows humour on the docks. Frankie Boyle had teenage issues with drink and drugs and he is open that his experiences inform his comedy.
Another Glaswegian who has been open with issues of drink and depression is comedian, author, and now Twitch streamer, Brian “Limmy” Limond. Limmy began in comedy, in 2006, with the podcast Limmy’s World of Glasgow, way before Podcasting was cool. The podcast became a cult hit and in 2010, BBC Scotland commissioned the sketch comedy of Limmy’s Show. Limmy has gone on to several other successful projects, and you can learn more of on Wikipedia and elsewhere, however, here I choose my top 5 Limmy sketches – or at the very least, the top 5 available to show online. Enjoy!
This sketch is a flawless introduction to Limmy’s absurd sense of humour. It has everything. Limmy’s off-hand, casual, Glaswegian delivery can be a challenge for those who have English as a second-language though an ex of mine found my, and Limmy’s, pronunciation of the word water so comical that it became something of an gag between us. In the show, Limmy often breaks the 4th wall, addressing the audience, and here his look to the camera that says, can you believe what I’m showing you? is wonderful. The moment that makes the sketch sing, however, is a throwaway line, right at the end – listen out for it. Cheers!
4. Dee Dee – Yoker
Dee Dee is a character that made the transition from podcast to television. His trip to Yoker is one of the best known sketches from Limmy’s show. I could write creative criticism in an article on this character alone but that is for another day. Dee Dee is beloved, I think, because he is familiar to every Scot growing up in the central belt in the 80s and 90s. One of those working class acid casualties that, even when sober, cuts about in an old tracksuit and a perpetual green cloud. He never has a job but gets by, and everyone knows of him. Dee Dee is innocent, awkward, and naive which often leads to misunderstanding or unconventional views on things and he is a window to a certain, specific Glaswegian surrealism.
3. Paraside – Doonstairs
If you had the singular experience of being a student in the early 2000s, you may have spent time at home in the afternoon, time enough to enjoy some television. You would certainly be familiar with TV spiritualists and mediums such as Derek Acorah and Colin Fry. It is in parody of these cynical grifters that Limmy created the character Raymond Day, and the television show, Paraside. The delivery and body language of this performance is superb but the place that the spiritual connection takes the sketch is sublime. Let’s see where the spirit takes us.
2. Marti Pellow
Something that Limmy does better than most is to take an archetype that everyone will recognise, such as the vocal inflection and mannerism of any pub storyteller, and heighten it to an absurd degree. From that, this tale of the origins of Marti Pellow (singer in Scottish 80s pop-soul sensations, and Clydebank Football Club shirt sponsors, Wet Wet Wet), and where it goes, is remarkable. In a stream on his Twitch channel, Limmy has said that the Marti Pellow story was true and told to him, word-for-word, by a girl from his college. She was the same age, but told the story like she was your aunt. This is a masterpiece.
1. Adventure Call
In another faultless play on a familiar archetype of pop culture encountered while growing up in Scotland, Limmy sends up the late night television in the formative satellite television years that would often be crammed with these money-sink call-in game shows. Limmy takes the format of an early text adventure fantasy computer game, gives it a helpful, if – on occasion – dispirited host, in Falconhoof, and delivers us Adventure Call. The comedy, of course, comes from the havoc effected by callers you would expect to hear post 1am on a weekday morning. This episode, when Stevie is on the verge of being the first traveler to find the black ruby of Voldesad, is my favourite, however, I can’t recommend enough hitting Youtube and watching them all. This is masterful.
And, I’ll leave you with this…