Janey Godley – Glaswegian to the Core



For most of the last 2 hours I have laughed so hard, I had tears rolling down my cheeks. Interspersed with that, I had more tears, or at least the threat of them, that I manfully tried to blink off.

As you may well know, I love stand-up comedy. Just in the last week I’ve been to see Richard Herring and Greg Proops (in separate shows) at the Citizens Theatre, as part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival. So here’s what I need to confess, whilst I have seen her on stage several times before, tonight I saw Janey Godley perform her full set for the first time. Why on earth has it taken me so long? Yes, I know, I’m an idiot.

Performed at Oran Mor, in Glasgow’s West End, the venue is within walking distance of Janey’s front door, and is as much of a home gig as it’s possible to have (or the also very near Stand Comedy Club). I love all types of stand-up comedy, and yes there are a great many styles and variations on the theme, and often find myself watching very clever wordplay and political satire. More than anything though, I just wish these guys (and they are mostly guys) were as funny as they are clever. Finding clever-funny, and falling-off-the-couch-breathless-funny is sadly very rare indeed.

Well, listen you here to me; Janey Godley is thunderously hilarious, disarming fragile, worryingly scary, and brutally honest. But above all, Janey Godley is the funniest comedian I have seen in a very long time. No qualification is necessary – not just the funniest woman, or funniest Glaswegian, but outrageously funny full stop. She won’t like me saying this, but only Billy Connolly has had this effect on me before.

Janey sometimes says that whilst non-Scots find her storytelling in that uniquely Glaswegian way to be all the more comical, fellow Scots simply see her as telling it like it is, like any other Glasgow wummin. Whilst she’s not wrong about the former, I reckon she hits a very particular chord with Glaswegians like me. More than anyone, Janey personifies the character of Glasgow; dramatic, pure gallus, tragic, disarmingly open and heartfelt, generous and immensely funny. Put simply, Janey IS Glasgow.

I shan’t attempt to repeat any of her material, but as she took us from one heart-breaking tale to the next outrageously hilarious story, she had the audience absolutely with her all the way, laughing hysterically, gasping and crying (but mostly laughing). At the very end, immediately after leaving us on a comedic high, Janey closed by reminding us how close to the surface her own emotions were, and how cathartic her comedy was for her own life. In doing so, she brought a roar of applause from the audience, whilst simultaneously pulling a wee tear from all of us in the room. I was moved, and the wet faces I saw as the lights went up told me I wasn’t alone.

Do yourself a favour. Make a point of tracking down Janey Godley as soon as possible at a comedy club near you. If you can, make the effort to see her at the upcoming Edinburgh Festival in August.

PS. Janey is ALL OVER social media, on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, and produces her weekly podcast with her daughter (and also comedian) Ashley Storrie. You can also buy her best-selling autobiography here.

Stephen O'Donnell is a lifelong recruiter, internet enthusiast, fadgadget and peripatetic writer.

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