Funny in Falkirk: From comic to stand-up

Simon Donald was the man behind cult comic 'Viz'
Simon Donald was the man behind cult comic 'Viz'

Simon Donald was a hugely successful cartoonist but gave it up to become a stand-up comic.

It’s not the standard career path for most comedians, but it’s a swap that the 47-year-old Geordie does not regret.

As one of the founders of the famous ‘Viz’ magazine, Simon was used to making people laugh - but at a much slower pace.

“Drawing cartoons is much a longer process,” he said.

“If you come up with something that you think is funny, you’ve got to spend hours drawing and re-drawing it - and that’s before anyone even gets to see it.

“Now if I write a joke I can try it out at a gig that same day.”

Simon will be performing at Behind the Wall on July 31 as part of the Funny in Falkirk festival.

His show is called ‘Him off the Viz’ - a reflection of his public image and also the title of his autobiography.

Simon began drawing cartoons for the magazine aged just 15 - and went on to enjoy its success as it became a publishing phenomenon.

At its peak, the magazine was selling over a million copies per issue and characters such as ‘Roger Mellie’ and ‘Sid the Sexist’ entered the national consciousness.

Simon was co-editor of the magazine until 2003 and still contributes occasional ideas.

He became a full-time stand-up comic in 2005.

“It’s a mixture of straight stand-up and characters that I perform,” Simon added.

“I’m always asked why I made the switch away from cartoons - this show will provide the answer.”

‘Viz’ is renowned for its adult humour and risque cartoon strips, but Simon says it’s all just good fun.

He added: “One of my biggest regrets is that we didn’t offend the people we were supposed to. We used to regularly come up with cartoons about people like Michael Winner and Janet Street Porter, but they never once complained. In fact, they used to ring up and ask to buy the original artwork.

“In fairness to them, they just took it on the chin. Although Janet Street Porter does have a very large chin!”