Fred MacAulay says the world of professional comedy has changed dramatically since he first performed in Falkirk more than 25 years ago.
The well-known stand-up and BBC Radio Scotland DJ made his Behind the Wall debut in 1988 as part of ‘The Funny Farm’, a troupe of Scots comics who were later given their own series on STV.
It was the same year that MacAulay made his first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe. The former accountant has been back every year since, displaying remarkable longevity in a profession that has a reputation for being notoriously fickle.
“I never expected to be at the Fringe in 2013. It was a dream. Something I thought I’d never see. Like trams,” MacAulay said.
The 56-year-old will preview his new show ‘25 Fringes’ with performances at Behind the Wall on July 22 and July 23 as part of the fourth Funny in Falkirk festival.
“It’s new material, you can’t go to Edinburgh and rehash old stuff. It’s a tough market. The Fringe gets bigger every year – you’re hard pushed to meet someone in Edinburgh during August that isn’t a stand-up comedian.”
There have, of course, been numerous ups and downs in MacAulay’s long and varied career.
“I compered a ‘Best of the Fringe’ TV show in the ‘90s, featuring the likes of Jack Dee and Julian Clary. I thought I’d done great. After filming, Addison Cresswell, a well-known theatrical agent, was going around shaking everyone’s hands. He turns to me and says: ‘Great show Ted!’
“My one-man show at The Gilded Balloon in 1996 was the year that everything seemed to come together. It’s not about one gig, but reaching a certain level and keeping to it. That was when the buzz started. I began my radio show the following year.”
Asked if he sees himself performing for another 25 years, Fred replies with a firm “no”.
“I don’t want to end up like Bruce Forsyth on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’. I cringe every time he makes a joke.”
If you do go to see Fred at BTW, expect stronger language than you would hear on the radio.
“After my show in Falkirk last year I got an email from a fan who said they were “very disappointed” with some of the language I used. But I would say that my tickets are marked as ‘suitable for 14+’. There’s nothing people won’t have heard in the workplace.”