Fringe 2011 Review – Fest Magazine

Raymond Mearns: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Stress But Were Afraid to Ask      ●●●●○


The origin of this show lies in garrulous Glaswegian Raymond Mearns being hired by the NHS to present an instructive DVD about dealing with stress. It made the comedian think about his own life, coming to the realisation that he seemed to be exhibiting many of the symptoms himself and eventually resolving to “sort himself out” following an eight-day bender.

The lion’s share of the set is constructed around the 14 tell-tale signs of stress, from tiredness to an over-reliance on alcohol. By way of illustration he tells a series of anecdotes from his past which resulted in these signs being manifested. Worries over tax returns, marital arguments, panic attacks and fights are all wheeled out and dissected in stupendously sweary detail.

Much of the humour comes from Mearns’ Weegie wit and phraseology—the highly prized Glesga patter—creating instant rapport with the audience and maintaining it throughout. A final quarter gives hope for those suffering from the condition, urging people to face their fears, be more active and watch what they drink – something which doesn’t seem to come naturally to the self-confessed “bevvy merchant”.

After one particular Stella-soaked tale you might never want to share a sleeper carriage with Mearns, but you have to congratulate him for providing a constantly funny hour which genuinely could make a difference to the lives of those who go and see it. On this evidence, tickets should be available on prescription

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