The Flying Pigs are back at HMT with their latest offering – “Finzean in the Rain” (Pronounced Ray-n)
I first became aware of the group in the late 90s when at Uni and was faced with dozens of posters for a show called “Last Tango in Powis”. The strange but alluring face of Scott Christie showing us a tub of butter left some confused, but many more chuckling away. Then when I got involved with the Student Show I started meeting many of the people who were in – or about to be part of the Comedy Troup and many of them I am happy to call friends.
They started off in the Lemon Tree and have worked their way up from a couple of hundred in the audience to their current run that can boast up to ten thousand people enjoying their show across their week and a half in the theatre. You can’t really single out anyone as the “star” from the group but Greg Gordon is for me the centrepiece of their success. His writing is great and combines a sharp eye with local flavour – a tough combination but he carries it off well. I would also argue that taking him from the wings onto centre stage was the turning point for them as he offered a different angle for the comedy to take that the others didn’t suit. His performance as the ex-fisherman as Cabin Crew is possibly the best thing they have done, and it’s he who will be known to many from the email viral involving a certain Mr Ruaridh Duguid and a disastrous phone call.
Craig Pike and John Hardie are perfect foils for each other in the Maurice the Liar sketches and Moray, Steve, Susan and Elaine round the team off each with their own strengths and great comic timing. There is an extended Pigs family from former cast members to other writers who have been part of the success over the years, but it’s the combination of good writing, great performances and the Doric flavour the show has that makes it so successful. They are often compared to the great “Scotland the What”, often due to the fact that both sprouted from the Student show and the family connection between Buff Hardie from “What” and his son John in Flying Pigs – while the comparisons are understandable they are also unfair as they both do different jobs and material and “The Pigs” have proved themselves in their own right. I’ve followed them since their second show in 1999 “Where Seagulls Dare” to tonight’s show via various radio series for Radio Scotland and a pilot episode for BBC 1 Scotland. I’ve sat in audiences for nearly everything they have done and I wouldn’t hesitate to buy tickets for whatever they do in the future.
Sketch shows can ironically be sketchy at times and the Pigs are no exception. Often it is the more surreal pieces that don’t sit alongside their other more traditional scenes and characters, but one area they don’t do enough on for me is the satirical look at Aberdeen life. We live in a really interesting area where Council, the Oil Industry and public figures like Stewart Milne and Donald Trump all come together and at times they take pot shots at them, but in the past Greg used to write fantastically sharp but underplayed satires on these things and the juxtapositions they threw up. He hasn’t done so much in recent years and I really believe it was a key strength alongside the great characters like Mither & Faither, Maurice, Mrs Valentine, Archie & Davey. Maybe it’s just my personal taste but the writers came up with some brilliant writing in this area that I’d love to see them have a bit more of a sting in the tail at times. That said I will always go along and support them because they are great value, very entertaining and wonderful people that I am proud to know.
Comedy is such a difficult thing to get right but more often than not these guys find the right balance that brings in a mixture of ages and backgrounds to their shows. There is not a reliance on swearing or coarse language, instead humour is derived from the characterisations and situations just as it should be. While there will always be room for a mix of high and low humour they know their audiences well and can fill the venues each time a new show goes on sale. I am very proud of what they have achieved both for themselves and for the area. Long may they continue tickling the funny bone of the North East.