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Romantic jesters at Mad Hatters for Valentine's comedy special

By Kyle Walker

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The Sh*ggers' Valentine's Day comedy special - featuring Jenny Johnstone headlining - comes to Mad Hatters on Thursday.
The Sh*ggers' Valentine's Day comedy special - featuring Jenny Johnstone headlining - comes to Mad Hatters on Thursday.

A stand-up night with a saucy twist is set for Mad Hatters just in time for Valentine's Day. Kyle Walker caught up with event co-organiser Kieran Lochore to get the lowdown

Hi Kieran! So, Sh*ggers. All I know about it is that it started off as a Fringe show in 2008 and it’s grown arms and legs since then, and there’s going to be a series of Valentine’s Day events across the UK. What can you tell me about the history of Sh*ggers? And how did you get involved with this Inverness edition?

After the first Sh*ggers shows at the Fringe were a massive success, my friend and Sh*ggers founder Nik Coppin took the show to festivals in Adelaide, Melbourne and Singapore. Since then he has gained a very international reputation. Sh*ggers Valentines gigs appear in places like London, Berlin and Sydney. So I can see why Inverness might seem a bit of a departure.

Nik Coppin has been a regular visitor to Inverness for a number of years, and was very keen to extend his reach and bring a show to the Highlands. I luckily managed to stumble into his crosshairs and loved the idea of a Sh*ggers event in Inverness. So I didn’t just offer help, I elbowed my way in like I was trying to get to the front of an unorganised McDonalds line.

I know that you and Nik Coppin are both on the bill for the night – who else can we expect? And what can we comedy lovers expect from the Sh*ggers night? Beyond, uh, shagging jokes, I guess.

Sh*gging is a given – considering the name it’s only fair – but we will be exploring the slightly more expanded vista of dating, relationships, and probably back to sh*gging again for good measure. All the comics on the bill will be discussing their lives in the dating world in as much raw detail as you can stand.

We have quite the line-up for y’all. Half a dozen of the best comics from our burgeoning scene. We have the wonderful Annie Gilfillan who has been delighting highland audiences since she kicked off last year. Mad Hatters regulars and local favourites Mike Hendry and Zander McNally will be on, plus the up and coming talents of Lorn McCormick and Ranald Fettes, who will both delight and excite you.

I am really pleased to say that we have the best headliner for an evening of this nature – none other than the inmeasurably hilarious and vivacious Jenny Johnstone. If you’ve been to any Highland gig in the past year you will no doubt have seen her perform and know what I mean. If you haven’t, then you truly need to get yourself down to the show!

The Scottish Highlands isn’t exactly the first place you think of when it comes to raucous blue comedy. What would you say to folk across the north possibly feeling a bit shy about coming along to get their bums in seats?

The dating world is full of embarrassment and uncertainty but it’s something we all go through, especially around Valentines day. I say let us embarrass ourselves for you. Sex and relationships are a part of life, some times are good and some times are bad. So come and let us take that burden for you for one night.

Enjoy us bearing our comedic souls for judgement so you don’t have to. And if we do end up shocking the sensibilities of a few letter writers then I say write that letter, bung it in an envelope and address it to yourself. You will be the only person who wants to read it!

With Sh*ggers being a Valentine’s Day spectacular, I suppose I should ask – what would be your ideal Valentine’s Day? Other than, of course, performing at the Sh*ggers Valentine’s Day Special!

Well I’m more of a romantic than my stand-up – or general essence of being – would have you believe. I like all the clichéd business as a rule, but a long walk on the beach loses its appeal in February.

I like the idea of spending Valentines day being gratuitous. Roses, chocolates, a fancy meal and perhaps an expensive hotel suite overlooking some sort of famous landmark.

That would be a great Valentines day for me. Folks tell me it might be even better if I asked another person to join me though.

For yourself, you’ve been really busy recently – compering, performing, and doing the Lazy Tortilla podcast as well! How was your 2018 for you in terms of comedy? How are you hoping that 2019 shapes up for you?

2018 was a year I didn’t see coming! The amount of Highland talent that has emerged over the past twelve months has been truly historic. This has made the scene grow and enabled me to become busy. I’m just trying my hardest to keep momentum going for this year, for me and for everyone else. For example I am going to be running a monthly comedy show for local acts to hone their material ahead of their appearances in places like the Stand.

The Lazy Tortilla podcast has enabled myself and Jenny to take a different type of live comedy show to the Highlands, with more a focus on improv and panel discussion style entertainment.

There are also some very, very exciting shows coming up for myself in the next couple of months, including a well-known Inverness venue that a great many of my heroes have performed in. But I can’t say too much more about that just now.

My calendar has become pretty full of late. I really am thankful for the audiences in the highlands that have been so supportive and have enabled us to grow in leaps and bounds. Thank you to everybody who has made all of this possible.

Sh*ggers' Valentine's Day Special takes place at Mad Hatters on Thursday, February 14. The show begins at 8pm and tickets cost £5.

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