[Image courtesy of fredmacaulay.com]
Accountants generally get quite a lot of bad press these days. Some is perhaps deserved when you consider the litany of recent financial scandals but what about the practitioners’ stereotyped association with poor social skills, dullness, and general conservative outlook. Perhaps true in some cases, but certainly not a sweeping statement.
This brings us nicely on to the subject of Fred MacAulay; former accountant turned stand-up comedian, broadcaster, TV personality and all round Caledonian sage who is returning to his stand-up roots once more, following the end to an 18-year stint hosting a mid-morning show on BBC Radio Scotland. A full UK tour is underway, comprising 23 dates in all, including 3 Yorkshire appearances, at the Square Chapel Halifax on 25th October, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse on 26th October and finally Masham Town Hall a couple of days later.
[Image courtesy of wyp.org.uk]
Catching up with Fred the Monday after Scotland’s heart-breaking exit in the Rugby World Cup, the man from Perth is in philosophical mood, musing, ‘The older I get the more these things hurt and last night was devastating, it really was. I would add that you couldn’t have scripted it but in Scotland’s case you easily could. It’s going to be a phenomenal 6 Nations next year’.
When talking about his career in accounting, Fred reminisces ‘I did OK actually, I worked for a retail group for about 10 years and got a couple of promotions with them finding myself in a fairly senior position, making the decision to get into stand-up a wee bit more difficult. I was married with two kids, a third on the way by the time I wanted to chuck it; it was a difficult time’ adding ‘The good thing [now] about having had a career before [comedy] is if there is a financial services company looking for a host for a corporate event and my CV lands on their desk, I tend to get the gig’.
Fred’s foray into mirth started many moons ago at an open-mic night in Glasgow, leading to a five minute gig at a pub with a promise of a further 20 minute paid booking if he got a laugh; the rest as they say is history. Asked if it took some liquid refreshment to generate the necessary Dutch courage in the early days , Fred explains, ‘The third time I did it, I’d had a few beers and I stormed it, and I thought aha! this is the secret, get a few pints inside you first, so I carried that piece of misinformation with me until I did my first gig at the Comedy Store in London, and I died on my a**e…..I thought I was hilarious, unfortunately the audience didn’t; I’ve never done it again’.
With all the new avenues celebrity has brought Fred, he still rates stand-up as his favourite vocation when compared to TV, Radio and corporate events, explaining ‘That’s where I cut my teeth, plus I was MC at the Comedy Store in London for about 5 years so a stand-up comedian is first and foremost what I [now] consider myself to be’.
Naturally as we pass the first anniversary of the tumultuous Scottish independence referendum and the ensuing fall-out, politics forms a considerable chunk of Fred’s current live act, ‘It’s the opening part of the show and there’s more than on my last tour. As usual with a lot of political events that have happened in the last 20-odd years, Scotland gets to try it first….we had the Poll Tax a year ahead of you, we banned Foxhunting a year ahead of you and now we’ve had a dry run at a referendum’ adding ‘Nicola Sturgeon has had only been on one foreign trip and that was to China; because the Communist party there wanted to ask her what it was like running a one-party state.’
Finally, if there are any would-be comedians reading this who find it difficult coming up with quality gags then take heart. Mr MacAulay also confesses to struggling with the physical art of writing his material, a lot of his act being made up from random thoughts jotted down then tried out on stage with the rest being improvised and extended with each performance, as he confirms ‘It’s always the hardest part of what I do.’
For more information on Fred’s performances in Yorkshire (Square Chapel Halifax on 25th October, Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse on 26th October and Masham Town Hall on 28th October) visit Fred’s website.