Comedian Des follows in Frank Sinatra's footsteps

SINATRA, Celine, Elton .

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  • Glasgow Comedian Des Clarke
    Glasgow Comedian Des Clarke
  • Glasgow Comedian Des Clarke

. . and Des. Comedian Des McLean may be best known for his comedy appearances in theatres across Scotland, and his breakfast stint on Radio Clyde.

However, the Blackhill-born actor has recently become a huge hit in Vegas.

Funnyman Des, famed for his radio characters such as Plunge McNuggett and uncanny impressions of the likes of Billy Connolly, played the desert city recently with a three-night booking.

And he was so successful he's been booked to go back for the next two years.

"It was the biggest ambition of mine to play Vegas," says Des, the excitement in his voice still audible.

"I was a massive fan of Sinatra and the Rat Pack and I loved to watch the old movies in which Vegas featured.

"A few years ago I got the chance to have a holiday in Vegas with my wife, Alison, when she was pregnant.

"And now that baby Harry is two years old it wasn't likely we'd go there for a holiday. It's too hot, it was 115 degrees every day, and it's an adult playground.

"But then the offer came through to go and perform there. And I was ecstatic."

Des was asked to play Las Vegas by producers who'd heard of his performances in Glasgow, and reckoned he would appeal to Brits on holiday.

"It was amazing," he says of the gig. "I and got to play at the Riviera Hotel, in the same iconic room Sinatra played, and the location for the Vegas scenes used in the Joe Pesci-Sharon Stone movie Casino.

"It was a dream come true. It was sensational."

Des, who was provided with a luxury suite during his stay, has played some major theatres in his years as a stand-up comedian, including the Pavilion Theatre and the Armadillo.

But this was jaw-dropping.

"The room was twice the size of the Hilton ballroom in Glasgow. And just the very thought of appearing there made me feel incredibly nervous.

"I just didn't want to let anyone down, and I felt the huge responsibility.

"So what I did was I kept going over my material beforehand, and I worked out the best bits to use. Thankfully, the audience loved it."

He adds; "I was so happy afterwards I stood outside the hotel feeling fit to burst, while staring out over this incredible Vegas vista. It was like a scene from a movie."

Then reality dawned.

"Just at that point a bloke with a half Scottish/half Canadian accent came over and asked why I hadn't 'done' Plunge McNuggett.

"He said he loved the character from listening online to Radio Clyde.

"It's moments such as this you realise the power of the internet."

Des isn't only working as a stand-up. Next month sees his return to play one-time poster boy politician Tommy Sheridan in the hit theatre, play I,Tommy.

Written by Rab C.Nesbitt creator Ian Pattison, the comedy received five star reviews when it played across Scotland last year. Now it's coming to the Pavilion Theatre.

"We had to bring it back," says Des, smiling. "There were even Scottish guys in Vegas telling me it was a fantastic show. And they wanted to see it again. This time round, we're taking it to the Pavilion which is a perfect fit, a great home for comedy."

Des adds, "I've done one-man shows there, I've played the Tin Man in panto and Jiminy Cricket. But Tommy is by far the most colourful character."

The cast is different this time around. River City star James McAnerney and Cat Grozier join Des, Michele Gallagher and Colin McCredie on stage.

Former MSP Rosie Kane also appears in the show - playing herself.

"Rosie came to see the show in Edinburgh, and she paid me a huge compliment when she said she couldn't look at me on stage at first; I was too close to reality.

"She'd been through so much of a hard time with Tommy in real life, ending up in a court and being grilled by him.

"But it says such a lot for Rosie she has the courage to come out and be part of a show that will remind her of one of the darker points of her life."

I, Tommy has been suitably refreshed by Ian Pattison.

"Ian has made some really funny changes to the show," adds Des, grinning.

"It's updated to include the Bedroom Tax years. And the audiences will love it."

After I, Tommy, Des's career as an international man of comedy continues to take off.

"I'm headed for gigs in New York, Boston, Toronto and New Jersey," he says.

"It's not quite Las Vegas again. But it's not Lesmahagow Bowling Club either."

n I, Tommy, Pavilion Theatre, September 17-21.

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