The funnyman – who plays self-obsessed police chief Cameron Miekelson in BBC Comedy Scot Squad – was thrilled to perform any kind of show during last year’s scaled down and socially distanced festival, which went ahead despite covid restrictions still in place.
But as well as smaller than normal audiences, strict rules meant venues had to be fully ventilated – even if it meant leaving all the doors and windows open.
And every time the BAFTA award-winning actor and comedian was about to deliver an emotional line in his play Nothing But, he had to compete with an almighty racket from outside.
Jack recalled: “The Fringe was a socially distanced festival last year with 70 people in a 140 seater and you had to keep the back door open, so the light would come in – which is odd when you’re performing.
“And you had to have the fan on to swirl all the covid around and move it out the back door.
“It had its challenges especially when 20 minutes into the show the guys would come to pick up all the bottles from the recycling bin outside.
“Just as we were getting to the emotional bit, I knew there was going to be this crashing noise.”
Jack is talking on a new episode of the Scottish Sun comedy podcast Laughter Unlocked, sponsored by interiors specialist Harry Corry and produced by Ten10 Podcasts, which is released on Monday.
The comedian and actor, who turned 60 this year, is one of ten star comics interviewed by journalist and part-time stand-up Simon Houston ahead of the Fringe, which officially kicks off on Friday.
His show Nothing But returns to Edinburgh again this month and he’s looking forward to performing it with the doors closed.
The one-man show is a tender, playful, darkly comic tale, in which he grapples with lost youth, love, fatherhood, sex, secrets and truth.
Jack explains: “It’s a comedy with serious bits. I toured it round Scotland earlier this year and then a week at the Soho Theater in London and I wanted to bring it back to Edinburgh and the festival when it’s back to its best.
“It’s a show about doing a show in Edinburgh and me trying to get in touch with a woman I had a one night stand with, over 30 years ago, with the festival as the backdrop.
“It’s about searching for what you lost and then finding something else along the way.
“And I think it’s fun for the audience to try to work out which bits are true and which aren’t.”
Edinburgh-born Jack made his name as one of the top gag writers for a string of hit shows including Spitting Image, Alas Smith and Jones, Vic Reeves’ Big Night Out and The Lenny Henry Show.
Then he found fame in his own right with Absolutely, which also starred Moray Hunter, Pete Baikie, Gordon Kennedy, John Sparkes and Morwenna Banks.
And he also hosted his own chat show for the launch of Channel 5 in 1997 which ran for two years and included massive guests like David Bowie and the Monty Python team.
The younger generation will know him best as Miekelson in Scot Squad and he revealed that the gang of bungling cops will be back to do more episodes of the hit comedy in the autumn.
He’s also planning a documentary for New Year’s Eve about 100 years of Scottish comedy and there’s also talk of a TV adaptation of Nothing But.
BEST OF THE FEST
LAUGHTER Unlocked host and Scottish Sun journalist Simon Houston will be making his own Fringe debut this year, after learning the stand-up comedy ropes.
Dad-of-three Simon will takes to the stage on August 19 and 20 as part of the Jay Lafferty: Club Sets show in the Beehive Inn venue as part of the Scottish Comedy Festival.
Simon said: “This is the biggest stage yet on a weird and wonderful journey which began back before the pandemic when I was set a challenge by the boss to see if it was possible to learn stand-up.
“Appearing at the Fringe, even just for two ten minute spots, is the climax to the crazy project. It will be absolutely be the icing on the cake.
“I was all set to do some sets at the 2020 Fringe, which was cancelled. Then when the idea to do the podcast came up, I wanted complete the deal.
“And Jay Lafferty who is a star on the Scottish stand-up circuit, kindly offered me the chance to appear in her show.”
Jay will be among the busiest people in Edinburgh this year, being directly involved in FOUR shows.
As well as Club Sets, she has her children’s comedy show The Song of Fergus and Kate at The Gilded Balloon Teviot from August every morning 3-28 (not Wednesdays), she’s producing a play The Intervention at the same venue from Aug 3-28 (not 17) and she’ll be among the hosts of the popular Late’n’Live show.
Speaking on Laughter Unlocked, which is released tomorrow, she tells Simon: “The most important thing to remember of all is to enjoy it!”
– Jay Lafferty: Club Sets August 5-28 (not 17) Beehive Inn 4.30pm
Recalling a career that began more than 40 years ago, Jack says: “My kids and their friends will see Scot Squad and that will lead them down a rabbit hole and they’ll then find Absolutely.
“It was harder when I was young if you wanted to find a famous Peter Sellers sketch, you couldn’t find it unless you had bought the album or it was repeated on the radio. But now you’ve got everything at your fingertips.
“If it’s solid it survives and not everything survives because it gets dated.
“I think Absolutely survived because it was never really topical – it was just kind of surreal and daft and that always survives.
“I often find myself saying I didn’t really enjoy being a chat show host but what I think I didn’t enjoy was doing it every night.
“But the joyful thing is meeting all these people that were your heroes.
“You never get over the teenager that’s inside you. It’s f*****g David Bowie and he knows who I am.
“It’s so surreal – in what other job would you end up sitting in the dressing room smoking a pack of cigarettes with David Bowie.”
Jack Docherty: Nothing But at the Gilded Balloon at the Museum, Edinburgh, 3-19 August – tickets.edfringe.com
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