DESCRIBING Anstruther’s Roy McIntosh as a man who likes to take up life’s unexpected opportunities when they drop in his lap is a bit of an understatement.
For Roy, it’s not so much saying yes to everything that comes along, more of asking himself a philosophical ‘why not?’
Head for the Caribbean in your 20s after seeing a poster for Jamaica Rum – why not? Bike across Australia – why not? Make your first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe at the age of 62 – why not?
Love him or loathe him might be too strong a distinction but, as someone who is always happy to speak his mind and stand by his views, Roy is a colourful character.
Brought up in Anstruther, he had a troubled childhood and, by his own admission, never fitted in. He loved to sing and remembers dreaming of performing but circumstances were against him. While he may have lacked confidence as a boy, by the time he reached his 20s, having trained locally as a marine engineer, he was ready to broaden his horizons.
He had intended going to Canada but his visa was held up.
“But by that time, I’d told everyone I was leaving and didn’t want to lose face so, when I was over in Glasgow, I saw a poster for Jamaica Rum and decided to go there instead, even though I wasn’t actually sure where it was,” Roy recalled.
The years that followed were filled with one adventure after another, from ‘escaping’ Jamaica, after being told he might not be safe, on a rusty old tug that would eventually bring him back to Europe, towing another vessel across the Atlantic, to crossing Australia on a motorbike.
By far one of the most life-changing events was meeting a young Panamanian trainee teacher called Melva when he was on the Caribbean island of Curacao.
Two years later the opportunity to go to Panama presented itself and, as ever, he took it.
“I had no idea if I’d even be able to find her but I did,” Roy said.
They married, came back to Scotland and had five children. However, if Roy’s life has been a rollercoaster-ride of ups and downs, the lowest was when Melva, by then working as a language teacher at Glenrothes College, was diagnosed with cancer and died soon after.
A grieving lone parent with five children aged between two and 12 could have been a disaster but they managed to keep it together with the support of two good friends who promised Melva they would help Roy raise the children.
His pride shines through as he describes how, now grown, each of them is forging successful lives in their chosen careers.
About five years ago, Roy found himself centre stage when an act dropped out at the last minute in a charity concert – he was handed a guitar he couldn’t play and told to do his best.
“I did a couple of solos and discovered I loved the buzz of it,” he said.
He learnt to play the guitar and took some music lessons, which led to performing his own unique songs at open mic nights in Crail, St Andrews and Kirkcaldy, and his Tackety Boot stage persona was born.
He teamed up with musician Rab Thomson and, until recently, the duo were regulars on the local music scene with their mix of folk with a bit of comedy thrown in. They even had three attempts at the TV talent show ‘Britain’s Got Talent’.
When the idea of performing at the Fringe came up, Roy, of course, thought ‘why not?’ He got in touch with promoters Laughing Horse and is now preparing for nine afternoon performances (August 2-10) of a show called ‘A Taste o’ Scotland’. He even secured sponsorship from Nairn Oatcakes, Quaker Oats and Walker Shortbread and their products will be used to entice audiences in.
“It’s costing me money but I’m looking at it as a summer holiday,” Roy said. “I’ve volunteered to help out with some of the other shows and who knows what opportunities that might bring?”
•A Taste o’ Scotland will be at the Pravda Bar – full details at www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk/edinburgh.
THE world-famous Edinburgh Fringe is a rite of passage for any comedian, young or old.
While Roy McIntosh is making his debut in his 60s, two young local comedians will also be taking their acts to the festival, although at very different stages of their careers.
For Liam Cumbers, of Cellardyke, this will be his first time at the Fringe. He was bitten by the stand-up bug a few years ago, making his debut in 2010 with Kirkcaldy Comedy Festival’s showcase for young comedians.
Since then, he’s been combining his studies at Dundee with travelling the country to fit in as many open mic nights as he can to hone his skills and anecdotal style.
And it has been paying off. He was recently offered much-coveted weekend spots at the Shark Comedy Club in Edinburgh and was a finalist in the Laughing Horse New Act of the Year 2012.
However, despite turning 21 just last week, Liam is still the old man of the line-up in his show, ‘The Kids We Used To Be’.
He’s joined by three other young rising comedy stars from the west, Scot Laird, Dan Petheridge and Stuart Thompson.
Despite growing in confidence and experience over the last year, Liam says he is nervous about his debut, although he will have the buffer of being part of a show for the first time, rather than going solo.
“We’re all roughly about the same age and will be giving our take on childhood, growing up and progressing into adulthood,” he said.
You can catch Liam from August 2-14 at The Phoenix venueor (see www.laughinghorsecomedy.co.uk/edinburgh for more details).
East Wemyss native Daniel Sloss is at the stage Liam would love to be at in a few years.
Having started doing stand-up at 16, Daniel’s fame has grown year-on-year, with appearances on ‘Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow’, ‘8/10 Cats’, ‘Rob Brydon Show’ and Comic Relief’s ‘Mock the Week’. The 21-year-old was the youngest comedian to perform a solo show in London’s West End and was commissioned by the BBC to write his own sitcom at 19.
This year’s will be his fifth at the Fringe – this time playing 24 gigs at the EICC – and then later this year, he embarks on a 60-date UK tour.