The Scottish Kiwi
Presented by: Wake Productions
Cavern Club, 1st Mar 2022
Reviewed by: Tanya Piejus
Ryan McGhee and his warm-up guy Michael Macaulay were waiting outside the Cavern Club when I arrived. They warmly introduced themselves, didn’t freak out when I told them I was reviewing their show, and we had a lovely chat about COVID and how lucky they were to be able to perform. Both were friendly and down to earth, the best examples of what the Fringe Festival is about.
Their charming openness and willingness to connect continued in an hour of quality stand-up comedy that traversed continents, climates, and cultures. Macaulay, originally from Teeside and now Paraparaumu, opened the show with a dig at Jimmy Carr’s racism and a claim that he doesn’t feel English despite a Geordie accent untouched by decades overseas. Before introducing McGhee, he drew belly laughs from pubic hair, dating before the age of mobile apps, oral sex with a Bee Gee, and his dad’s cremation.
The most successful stand-up comedy often comes from people who are willing to display vulnerability about their own life experiences and laugh at themselves. This McGhee happily does as he talks about being a ‘born and fled’ Glaswegian who is fiercely patriotic about all things Scottish but would never want to live there again.
Starting with his staunch Catholic upbringing, through coming out as gay, to moving to Australia and being half of one of the first same-sex couples to be legally married – and divorced – there, he brings us on his colourful journey to New Zealand and genesis as the Scottish Kiwi.
In his All Blacks shirt and kilt, McGhee pokes gentle fun at, among other things, New Zealanders’ passion for winning at sport, anti-vaxxers and their inability to deal with ‘three wee pricks’, why bungee jumping is the Kiwi equivalent of haggis, and his drunken purchase of a scarily huge sex toy called Dennis the Destroyer. All of this is peppered with hilariously smutty gay jokes and a disarming ability to tell a great story, making a great hour’s entertainment.