If laughter had the power to kick-start a defunct pancreas, Fred MacAulay would by now have banished type 1 diabetes to the medical history books.
His night of entertainment at Mareel on Sunday brought a welcome boost for diabetes charity, JDRF, but it also raised a dose of hearty belly-laughs from its appreciative audience.
You may remember MacAulay best for his radio shows and his various quiz show appearances, but MacAulay says he shuns the word “celebrity” – unless it can be used to his advantage in trying to get a taxi home from the pub in Glasgow, where the Perthshire accountant-turned-stand-up spends most of his time.
“Don’t you know who I am?” he has bellowed at the odd, harassed cab driver at the end of a night’s imbibing. “You do? Any chance you might know where I live?”
In any case, as funnymen go, MacAulay holds his head high in the current crop of comedians. So you might think he could afford a compere.
“Ladies and Gentleman, please give a warm welcome to Mr Fred MacAulay,” bellowed the voice at the start of the night – a voice that sounded suspiciously like MacAulay himself. It was his brother, Kenny, MacAulay explained. Kenny is real, he said with a twinkle, and also “tax-deductible”.
Certainly real was the audience’s appreciation for MacAulay’s whimsical tales and one-liners. So, if you are the salmon farmer who didn’t have to do maths, or one of the four Unst ladies who kept their jackets on, you helped make the night funny, too.
MacAulay was also introduced to an advanced nurse practitioner, and the woman who also came from Perthshire, and knew his father. It happens to everyone, doesn’t it?
This being a night for a diabetes charity, MacAulay was not averse to discussing medical matters. It may have raised an eyebrow or two that John Prescott had suffered from bulimia (“aye, in its mildest form”). There was also a reference to the charity collector he encountered in Glasgow’s Byres Road. “Have you got a minute for attention deficit disorder?” You can’t make material like that up.
MacAulay also recounted his experiences climbing a snow-covered Mount Kilimanjaro for charity, which heralded his criticism of Bob Geldof’s hit Do They Know It’s Christmas? Geldof, he says, should be taken to task over his accuracy for including the line, “And they’re won’t be snow in Africa”.
Other tales focused on childhood holidays to St Andrews which have haunted his memories – and his honeymoon – attitudes to hand-dryers, the somewhat bizarre pass rate for higher maths (it’s 34 per cent) and the tendency of young folk to shave certain parts of their anatomy. If you were there, you may never eat fish fingers again.
Special mention, too, for the German Burns supper, where the address to the haggis got lost in translation, and “great chieftain of the pudding race” became “mighty fuhrer of the sausage people”. Then there was the tale of woe concerning his daughter and an online revelation she had met disgraced sex pest Jimmy Saville. “Calm down,” the punchline proclaimed, “it was at Madame Tussauds”.
MacAulay praises others for their political material, but he did dwell on some matters of note. Brexit comes up for discussion, as well as tweets dispatched, in perhaps not the best possible taste, by Westminster’s youngest MP, Mhari Black.
But it’s American election hopeful, Donald Trump, who came under particular fire. MacAulay was saddened to hear Trump’s mother hailed from the Western Isles – the very place where MacAulay can also trace his ancestry. He is not proficient in the mother tongue, but he was pleased to hear the Gaelic for Trump sounds like a particularly wet raspberry.