Still making people laugh 30 years on

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Less than two minutes into my chat with Fred MacAulay, and I was laughing.

Definitely a good sign. theres bothing like good old dreich Fife weather to bond people together.

In May 1988 at the age of 31, Fred looked at how his life was going and decided to do something radical.

Working as a Financial Accountant and Company Secretary unbelievably just wasn’t fulfilling enough!

“I had always hoped that I would still be doing comedy after 30 years,” Fred said.

“As a young lad at school, I used to enjoy making my pals laugh, but I just didn’t know how to go about making a career from it.

“I liked accountancy but it wasn’t my passion. It was a good job that paid a salary and paid for a good way of life,” he continued. “I come from a working class family in Perthshire, whose ethos was to get a job and work hard.

“People with jobs had suits and a car and I wanted both!”

But it wasn’t long before thoughts turned to comedy.

So, Fred entered a ‘So You Think You’re Funny’ competition at Glasgow’s Mayfest and with scarcely five minutes of his own material walked on stage as a stand-up comedian for the very first time.

“It was nerve-wracking getting up on the stage,” he recalled.

“The lights literally blind you... well, not literally of course – just as well my subject at school was maths and not English!” he laughed.

“What audiences don’t understand is that you don’t really see much when you are on the stage.

“You only know how things are going when you hear them laugh.

“That’s better than the other sound which is their chairs scraping back and them leaving.

“You had to submit your material to the competition and if they thought your material was good enough, you got through,” Fred continued.

“I tell you, I though I was special when I made it – I only found out afterwards that everybody that entered got to take part in the competition!”

Within a short couple of years, the young father of three children, was MC’ing The Comedy Store in London and decided that he should hang up his accountancy boots/gloves/pencils/calculators once and for all.

And he has never looked back.

Since February 1, 1993 he’s been a full-time comedian, sometime radio host, TV show panellist/host and writer.

“I don’t know how to do anything else!” Fred added.

A regular at Edinburgh Fringe and with many tours under his belt, people around the UK and abroad will be familiar with Fred’s humour.

A mixture of satire and observational comedy has kept Fred at the forefront of the UK Comedy scene for the last three decades, but why does he think he’s stood the test of time?

“Well, I think it’s because what I do is likeable,” Fred continued.

“It’s not rude, it’s not offensive. It can be hard hitting I want it to be, though. It’s observational, it’s about family and life and what’s going on in the world.

“The show I did with Ally McCoist, McCoist and MacAulay was the same.

“One of the producers said that they didn’t know what it was exactly, but it was very likeable.”

To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Fred’s initiation into the world of stand-up comedy he’s put together a small tour of some of his favourite venues around Scotland for his third successive summer tour which begins and end in Fife (St Andrews and Dunfermline respectively).

“Most comedians go on tour in October, November and December, maybe into the next year if they are good enough, after they have played the Edinburgh Festival,” he said.

“So that time is really when comedians go on tour.

“I used to do my tours in the Autumn around England, but I’ll be honest...you soon tire of dark autumn evenings on the road to places that even the locals have never heard of!

“Your stuck in say North Devon and it’s dark at 6pm.

“I’d get a decent audience because of the Radio 4 stuff that I did, but still!

“This time I’m sticking to May, June and July – something a little but warmer.

This tour takes in Orkney and Shetland. The Borders and the Highlands. Cities and towns. And villages.

“I’ll go anywhere that’ll have me. It’s like having a summer holiday with a wee bit of work thrown in,” he added. “And yes, the golf clubs will be in the back of the car! I get to play all my favourite venues as well.”

So, what can people expect in the company of Fred for the evening?

“I’ll be looking back over the years,” he explained. “When I first started out, I had three small children and now I have three big adults who are all working, so it will be about family.

“It’s not just about my career though, I’ll be looking at how the world has changed.

“Take Trump for example, they say he’s a genius... perhaps a self-proclaimed genius!

“A lot of people know that his mother came from Stornoway,” Fred continued. “But did you know that is granny is a MacAulay?

“It made me start researching my family tree and so far I’ve been back 11 generations and there is no link.

“If there is, I’m getting the Tipp-Ex out on that family tree!”

Fred is looking forward to heading to Fife next month to kick off the tour.

“The tour starts in the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve played before a few times and it’s always a great night, it’s a lovely venue,” he said.

“That’s in May, and then I play the Carnegie Hall in Dunfermline but that’s not until July.

“My family used to holiday in Elie so it brings back fond memories... though I’ve told everybody else the same thing – my family must have had more holidays than anybody else!” Fred laughed. “I joke, it was Elie and it’s a great place”

· Catch Fred MacAulay at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews on Saturday, May 5 (tickets available from www.byretheatre.com) and Dunfermline Carnegie Hall on Saturday, July 14 (www.onfife.com).