Iron Bru, Sherlock Holmes, Tartan and Brian Limond. In no particular order, these are the best things that Scotland has ever produced. The deep fried Mars bar has been omitted due to claims that it violates certain human rights. Brian Limond, or ‘Limmy’, violates every idea of mainstream comedy that you’ll ever have. After the Referendum it seems patronizing to give Brian Limond an English counterpart, but if you like the analytical stream-of-consciousness comedy of Stewart Lee, you’ll definitely find something interesting in Limmy’s Show.
In Edinburgh, Limmy is pretty much a household name, with his sketch show being broadcast on the BBC, and his Glasgow shows selling out. And yet, he’s not even bothering to do a show in London. The imaginatively named ‘Limmy’s Show’ is the best sketch show you’ve never heard of. It’s also the weirdest, the smartest, quite possibly the scariest, and almost definitely the most meta. It’s also very difficult to describe.
One of the most commendable things he does is break the fourth wall, and so making the audience part of the show. This isn’t done through a gimmick phone-in episode but through extremely intelligent writing, audience psychology and immense forethought. One example is a skit in which Limmy places a china plate on a table, just in front of camera, looks down the lens, and tells the audience not to touch the plate. And consequently, as an audience member, you want to touch the plate. Just to see what would happen. Even though you can’t. Because you’re watching television. Throughout the episode, we return to this sketch, with Limmy popping back in and reminding us ‘Not to touch the plate’, knowingly tempting us. Obviously, we cannot touch the plate, but when one of the other actors steals the plate and Limmy returns, the audience is left as the main culprit and Limmy ends the show upset with the audience.
As you have been warned, it is very odd… but worryingly effective and, oddly for a sketch show, thought provoking. One sketch makes Limmy into an internet sensation after he’s photographed with a pint of milk by his friends. Limmy is the joke, but as an audience we are on his side – we know that a pint of milk is not funny, but if everyone tells you it’s hilarious (as the world of the sketch does), most of us would probably go along with the ‘joke’ in order to fit in. In another sketch Limmy speaks directly to the audience and instructs them to, in the middle of any conversation, pretend to be offended and ask your friend to drop the topic, simply in order to confuse your friend. Limmy asks his audience members to convince their friends to think they have repressed feelings about something such as ‘wallpaper’ to, in his own words, ‘keep it interesting’. Weird enough already, but when he returns thirty seconds later and tells his viewers to bring it up again a fortnight later, as if it’s been on their mind ever since, it almost becomes a good idea. Limmy’s thought about this plan in detail, and he’s right: it would be utterly pointless, but it would be interesting and it would probably work. It’s this abstract psychological humour that makes Limmy’s show one the most intriguing sketch shows that I’ve ever seen.
The best sketch is one involving a grown man who’s been tripping since sixth form. After bumping into an old friend, he explains that he’s been tripping, and that he can hear voices. All very odd, and kind of funny in that weird way that you can’t quite explain. But when the friend asks where the voices are coming from, and Limmy points to the camera and says ‘In there. The voices are laughing’, it gets really creepy. And when he anticipates the audience getting creeped and going silent, he takes it a step further by saying ‘Now they’re not laughing’, before the sketch is saved by Limmy walking on as himself, the conductor if you will. Soothing the audience, he attempts to explain the weirdness of the sketch, offering three hypothesises: It’s probably the weird guy tripping. Or perhaps it’s Limmy himself that’s tripping in writing such a weird sketch. And then he suggests that maybe the audience is tripping, because they’re still watching and still consensually being a part of his absurd world.
It may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you want to watch something truly unique, highly intelligent, and with some beautifully incomprehensible Scottish accents, give Limmy’s Show an evening of your time. You won’t be disappointed, although you’ll never be quite the same again.