Playing it for Laughs

Best known for his acutely observed character comedy, including playing Scot Squad’s lunatic Chief Commissioner Cameron Miekelson, the play instead sees Docherty explore material that is a little closer to him. It is a tender, playful, darkly comic tale, in which he grapples with lost youth, infatuation, fatherhood, sex, secrets and truth.

“Half the fun of the show is imagining the audience thinking ‘this can’t be true, can it?’,” he explained. “And I never let on what’s true and what’s not. I mined my past but fictionalised it. Put it this way, I’m playing ‘me’.”

Described as a love letter to Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and summer rain, Nothing But enjoyed a sell-out run at last year’s Fringe, resonating deeply with audiences.

“I was so pleased it worked well – probably the best reviewed show I’ve ever done,” reflected Jack. “I loved the feeling when the audience fell quiet in the serious bits. I felt like a proper actor!”

And the play continues to touch a nerve now that Docherty has taken it on tour. “At heart, it’s a rom-com, a ‘what might have been’ story and we all have a ‘what if’ in our lives, some relationship that didn’t work out,” he explained. “And then it becomes more a story about a father/daughter relationship, and all of us has family. So, it’s a pretty universal tale.”

It’s also an experimentation that audiences can expect more of from one of Scotland’s most popular comic performers. “I’m always looking for the next challenge; something I haven’t done before and a comedy with serious bits fits the bill. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving behind the character comedy. I’m just mixing it up.”

Material that is a little more introspective feels like it might have been a lockdown project but it actually pre-dated the pandemic. Docherty was originally going to perform it in 2020, having worked on the play while out in Australia visiting his brother-in-law.

Then the pandemic hit and all plans changed. “I managed to get the last flight out of Sydney, otherwise I might be there to this day playing Chief Commissioner Bruce Miekelson of the Unified Australian Police Force,” smiled Jack.

“But I wrote it in lockdown and it did influence the nostalgic tone of the piece. We all believe in better days that have come before.”

Jack Docherty appears at the Eastgate Theatre in Nothing But, 7.30pm, Thurs 17 March. Tickets £15, £13, available from Box Office on 01721 725777, or online.