Comedian Allan Stewart rolling back the years with new stage show Canned Laughter

Allan Stewart
Allan Stewart

It follows the fortunes of a trio of 1970s entertainers in the present day.

But while he won’t be turning the clock back to some of the dodgy humour of the time, old pro Allan has slammed politically correct critics who take offence at anything.

“It’s just ridiculous these days,” Allan, 65, told iN10.

“I saw Ali G on the Jonathan Ross Show recently doing an Indian accent to describe somebody, which I think is just fine.

“But I did an impression – the same as I would for a Yorkshire or a Welsh accent – of an Indian waiter when I was at the King’s in Edinburgh and I got this gasp.

“I took the gag out the next night as I realised even that’s not acceptable.

“I totally believe we’ve gone too far on the PC side of things.

“There is a minority of people who say it’s terrible, you shouldn’t do it.

“They’re the ones who get the attention, not the majority who just enjoy a laugh.

“It’s a very difficult one. I play to every nationality on cruise ships these days and I assume that I take my humour to a level that’s acceptable.

“But with comedy you can’t get away without upsetting somebody and you have to hope they’re in the minority.”

Canned Laughter, which opens at the Adam Smith Theatre in Kirkcaldy on Wednesday, stars Glasgow-born Allan as well as Andy Gray and Grant Stott.

The trio have been panto pals for the past 15 years, with the most recent King’s run packing them in for seven weeks and selling nearly £2million in tickets.

It’s co-written by Allan and Ed Curtis, who directed the Susan Boyle musical I Dream A Dream.

Initially it was going to be about a musical group from the 1970s now together again four decades on.

But it evolved into a piece about a comedy group in the vein of the Barron Knights or Grumbleweeds. They were major names back when the club scene, something Allan knew well, provided entertainment for the masses.

“One of the scenes takes place in the Edmiston Club, the Rangers social, in Glasgow,” explains Allan.

“I had played just about every venue is Scotland for years but that was my first move into real classy big venues.

“My dad was my manager and he couldn’t get over the fact that it had electric curtains and a stage that raised up out of the floor.

“I made my name there and there were queues round the block.

“After my TV career took off, big clubs were very much my scene during the spell in the 1970s where this play starts.”

The Canned Laughter cast rehearsing (Douglas Robertson)
The Canned Laughter cast rehearsing (Douglas Robertson)

In today’s very different environment, the entertainment venues in which Allan still thrives are cruise ships.

He’s in demand on vessels all across Europe in particular.

“I mostly do one-nighters, just flying in and away again.

“Sometimes I’ll do a couple of shows so I’ll be there for four or five days and I get a chance to lie in the sun.

“But I’d much rather get in and get out. I’ve done the ships for so long that I don’t look on it as a holiday.

“I’m on my own and it’s a job, but the theatres are just magnificent.

“They are like the London Palladium with great sound, lights and band and it’s a joy to be there.”

Allan does get a chance to unwind with regular visits to his big pal, iN10 favourite Ross King.

“I see him in LA a few times a year and he gives me a call most mornings when he’s finished his spot on Lorraine,” says Allan.

With decades in the business, the affable Scot has plenty to reflect on.

But what gives him as much satisfaction these days is the way showbiz could hardly run deeper in the family.

Wife Jane runs a corporate hospitality company involved with Adele’s upcoming tour, son David is in the music business and daughter Kate is also thriving.

“Kate’s riding high with a record and publishing deal and is the face of New Look,” adds Allan.

“It’s exciting to see them have success and lovely to have them call me up and ask things.”

Canned Laughter: Kirkcaldy Adam Smith Theatre, Mar 9-12, Glasgow Theatre Royal 15-19, Aberdeen His Majesty’s 24-26, Edinburgh King’s Theatre Mar 29-Apr 2


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