By Graham Chalmers
One of Scotland’s best loved comedians is bringing his new show to Masham next week - just don’t ask Fred MacAulay about the Rugby World Cup.
A regular guest on BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz, his current UK tour is his first major one since 2012 and its main topics were meant to be his own family life and life in general in post-independence referendum Scotland.
That was before the Scotland-Australia clash and its controversial ending involving a certain South African referee.
Talking to Fred the day after Scotland’s last minute defeat, I ask the cheery 58-year-old if he’s thought of any funny lines about the game yet.
“No. It’s not funny. It was a shocker. I might have calmed down enough by the time I get to Masham to see the funny side, though.
“I think the referee has to explain why he ran off the pitch so quickly at the end.”
Usually a busy man, the end of his long-running show on BBC Radio Scotland after a phenomenal 18 years has freed Fred up to hit the road again in a big way and play shows like Masham Town Hall next Wednesday.
Fred said: “When they asked me to start the radio show in 1997 they did say they might want me to do it for three years. They just kept renewing my contract.
“The good thing was I still able to fit in some stand-up along the way. I’ve always considered myself to be a stand-up comic who does a radio show rather than the other way about.”
Fred, who hails from Perth and graduated from the University of Dundee with an MA in accountancy and jurisprudence before taking up comedy, was famously the first Scot to be the house compere at the Comedy Store in London in 1994.
He said: “In stand-up terms, the Comedy Store is the mecca for comedians, especially in those days. It was a great accolade. I was lucky to get my foot in the door.”
He’s done 27 Edinburgh Fringes, walked the 151 km of the West Highland Way and successfully got to the top of Kilimanjaro.
Still, getting over the Scotland-Australia match sounds like it’s going to be difficult.
“There was a saying that we Scots watch the rugby for excitement and the football for disappointment. Now it’s the same for both.”