Before All This, Gary Meikle’s Fringe debut, presents an autobiography of sorts detailing the events and circumstances that led him to be on stage. Meikle names himself as one of the “happiest guys you’ll meet”, which is lucky as many of these events and circumstances would be enough to break a person.
He takes us on a whistle stop tour of his trickiest moments, from being put into care at 14 after being shunned by his family, to being thrown into parenthood within a year of leaving care, to being left to single-handedly raise his daughter. Perhaps worst of all though, he’s (very loosely) related to Margaret Thatcher.
Despite all this, Meikle has bounced back stronger. Developing his experiences into an abundant stream of material, he is ready to laugh at himself and at the hand that life has dealt him with in a typically Scottish fashion. In a time where ‘Scottish Twitter’ and dad jokes dominate the internet, Meikle has combined the two in a hilariously unique way.
However, this isn’t merely a comedy show. There’s some genuinely emotional moments as Meikle tells his life story, the story of a man who is evidently proud of his family and their accomplishments. He recounts tales of antics with his daughter with passion and empathy, sharing some deeply personal moments and providing a moral insight into parenting – all while firing out humorous quips and structuring layered jokes that reappear throughout the show.
As the show reaches its conclusion, Meikle discusses the dating world as a 40-year-old grandad. While still full of hilariously cringy anecdotes, these last minutes lack the aforementioned passion and drive of the earlier material.
Regardless, Before All This squeezes 40 years of life into a confidently narrated hour that will leave you simultaneously laughing and cringing, yet feeling surprisingly wholesome. Meikle is a comedian and storyteller who is definitely worth keeping an eye on to find out what comes after all this.
Gary Meikle – Before All This, Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre, Aug 6-26 (not 13), 7.15pm