“I want the patter – and Glasgow won’t disappoint” – comedian Craig Hill’s dream concert
It is unusual to find Craig Hill at a loss for words.
But the Glasgow-born comedian who regularly sells out at festivals in Scotland and abroad is finally playing his ‘dream’ location here in the city – and he’s speechless.
“I can’t believe it,” he said finally, looking a little in wonder.
“I’ve always wanted to appear on stage in the Pavilion, it’s like a rite of passage for the whole of Glasgow, isn’t it? I think the readers of the Glasgow Times will understand what I mean by that. It is such a famous and prestigious place in the city.
He adds: “I am truly delighted to be walking in the footsteps of so many great performers – Billy Connolly, Stanley Baxter… there is such a story here.
“It’s really weird to think of the public putting their buttocks on seats where people have been sitting for over 100 years. ”
He jokes, “And this is an audience that will understand every word – I won’t have to edit a single thing. It will be great to be on stage again in front of a crowd at home, where I’m from, doing what I love in front of people who got it.
Craig presents his sold-out show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Pumped! at the Pavilion on October 1st.
This is his first gig in the city since the Glasgow Comedy Festival just before the pandemic and the ensuing lockdown halted the live performances in its tracks.
“Before Edinburgh people kept asking me, oh how are you going to do it, back on stage after not doing it for 18 months, will you be ready, will you be really nervous?” he explains.
“Strangely, I don’t feel like that at all.
“I feel more excitement and fervor than ever because it’s what I love to do, and it was taken from me. I want to go back there, I am desperate to do so, so rather than being nervous I go all out. ”
He adds, laughing: “After 18 months locked up at home? Are you kidding?
As an artist, you have this natural desire to entertain, this energy – and where has it gone? Going on stage will be like hitting a match. ”
All he wants, says Craig, is “Glasgow’s chatter.”
“I know that the Pavilion audience will be up to the occasion,” he smiles.
“The last time I played in town I was chatting with a woman in the front row who was very curvy and a man in the back asked if she wanted a date.”
Craig laughs, “He was from Rio, so like a flash she was yelling ‘Naw, son, I once had a Brazilian.’ ”
Backstage at the Pavilion, as he prepares for the concert, Craig returns to his love of the place.
“We all used to go on the bus to the panto, me and the family, aunts, uncles, cousins - it was a real treat,” he says.
“The shows were crazy. I liked it. Going out in the dark afterwards, counting the Christmas trees in the windows on the way home – it all stuck in my head.
“For most children, the panto is of course their first theatrical experience. I love theaters – the venues are amazing, the anticipation while you wait for the lights to go out – it’s magic. ”
Craig adds: “I knew that when Covid arrived and things started to shut down, the theaters would be the last to come back. Theaters are where I play, so I knew it was going to be a long road. The confinement was not too hard for me, I was lucky.
He adds with a laugh, “And now that we’re back, the audience is awesome. The Fringe audience was so ready – especially for the comedy. You could feel the excitement of the scene.
“And the sites are incredibly secure, which is important. I think everyone understands that at the start of this whole reopening it won’t take much to close again, and nobody wants that.
Craig, who grew up in East Kilbride, was a hairstylist before trying stand-up, and since his first Fringe in 1999, every race has been sold.
He has performed in Australian comedy festivals for over 15 years, has taken the stage at the London Palladium and in 2015 was UK Ambassador for the Joke Nation competition at the Montreux Comedy Festival.
He’s a pretty kent face on TV and in 2017 he made his Glastonbury debut in wellies, kilt and all. Pump ! is the classic Craig Hill, filled with gags, music, a little dancing, and lots of slightly risky audience participation.
“You don’t want to talk about Covid, but I’m talking about my life and how can I do it without mentioning the past year and a half? ” he says.
“I would never care, but I’ve been trying to find some of the fun sides of being stuck in your house for months.
“So I’m doing a song called It’s Time to Start Daeing Yer Hair at Hame, and there’s an Olivia Newton-John tribute to Astrazeneca – that sort of thing.”
He smiles: “And there is a joke about giving nurses applause.” I couldn’t help myself.
Craig Hill is pumped! is at the Pavilion on October 1st. Visit the theater website for tickets and more information.