Broken Funnies

Aug 13 2019 | By More

★★★☆☆    Promising debut

Scottish Comedy Festival at Nightcap: Fri 2 – Mon 25 Aug 2019
Review by Sarah Moyes

Stand-up comedian Martin Bearne is loud and ill-mannered in his portrayal of a struggling comic in his new one-man play, Broken Funnies.

Bearne, a regular on the Scottish comedy circuit, is this year trying something completely different. Theatre. And as theatre, this asks the question, “What drives some people to seek validation from strangers?”

Martin Bearne in Broken Funnies

Directed by Andrew Sim, Broken Funnies tells the story of a struggling stand-up comedian – called Martin Bearne of course – who uses his comedy to hide behind his own personal problems.

The show begins with what Bearne (and the character Martin) know best, a short stand-up routine filled with several laugh out loud jokes. Some of which definitely cross the line with what is – and isn’t – appropriate, as many members of the audience gasps unsure whether they are suitable to laugh at or not.

The nature of the humour he displays in his act gives an insight into some of his own personal struggles as we’re taken on a journey through Martin’s therapy sessions. It’s here that he finds it difficult to do anything except tell jokes much to the frustration of his therapist. While Broken Funnies is a one-man performance, there are a few additional characters like the recorded voice of his therapist

The sessions are intertwined with other aspects of his life including a disastrous date where he makes some jokes about a medical condition his date’s friend has just been diagnosed with, and he even brings out his own food in a bid to save money. There’s also a very unexpected yet amusing Interpretative Dance section that just comes out of nowhere yet still has the audience laughing.


The show is staged at Nightcap, the regular home of a cocktail bar, which actually works really well as venue. The stage is small and perfect to host the type of performance that doesn’t require any staging, and the audience sits close enough to really feel part of the show.

Martin Bearne in Broken Funnies

Although at times, Bearne’s shouty delivery can be a bit too much for a such a small room and if toned back even just a little it would be easier on the audience’s ears.

The show takes a more serious turn towards its later parts as Martin’s therapist finally gets to the bottom on his problems – which explains a lot about his style of comedy and why he always needs laughs and validation from everyone he meets.

As the show comes to an end the audience is reminded just how important it is to reach out to friends in times of need, something which everyone needs to be reminded of sometimes.

A solid hour of comedy theatre which shows promise for Martin Bearne’s future ventures into the world of theatre if he wishes to tread the boards again.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Scottish Comedy Festival at Nightcap, 3 York Place, EH1 3EB (Venue 383)
Friday 2 – Monday 26 August
Daily (not Mon 12, Mon 19/Tue 20): 2.15pm.
Age restriction: over 18s only (venue restriction).
Tickets and details:

This is a pay-what-you-want show, with a reserve-your-seat for £5 option.

Twitter: @BearneMartin
Facebook: @martin.bearne.3


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