Stuart Mitchell’s stand-up comedy has taken him all over the world, performing gigs across the UK, Australia and the United States – and over that time, it’s only natural that the comedian has picked up a few fans in his time.
There are even one or two you may have heard of – in particular, Hollywood A-Lister Will Ferrell.
The actor – famous for roles in films including Elf, Anchorman, and Step Brothers – saw Stuart perform in Los Angeles, leading to a chance meeting the day after at a football match.
But what advice would this legend of laughter have to impart to Stuart?
“He told me to give up – no, he didn’t really!” the Linlithgow comedian laughed. “No, he was more than happy to give me a shout out.
“You always worry what celebrities will be like in real life but he was brilliant – a gentleman as my gran would say.”
It was a lucky encounter – and a much-deserved plaudit for the Fringe sell-out – but life for Stuart hasn’t been so charmed.
It’s the darker parts of his life that prove to be the subject of his stand-up show – Dealt a Bad Hand – coming to Eden Court on Thursday, June 13.
“This show has been hard to write from a personal level,” Stuart explained. “However, the writing has been key in order to make people laugh!
“The subject matters are very raw and deal with death. I am so terrified of death I’ve considered not doing it! But in all seriousness the best comedy comes from tragedy and I have certainly had a lot of misfortune in life. It’s all about how you deal it with and move on.
“The messages I receive after the shows are what gives me a real buzz. People who have had a bit of hard time can come and laugh along to deal with grief and misfortune.”
Stuart today is in a much better place – in addition to his stand-up, he recently swapped careers from a high-flying job in the banking sector to a role working with the charity Sue Ryder, which works to provide palliative and neurological care for people with end of life and long term needs.
“It was an ethical decision and clearly not a financial one!” said Stuart, who was at 18 years old the youngest ever person to work in Whitehall as a junior economist. “I know it’s a cliché when you hear people say you should always do what makes you happy in life. However I acted on that advice when many don’t.
“The bank flew me to New Zealand for an interview – with a sister bank – and forgot I was coming to the final interview! They had filled the position the previous day. I typed up my resignation when I got back to the UK.
“Sue Ryder are a fantastic charity to work for. Every penny we raise goes to delivering incredible care to those with incurable illnesses.
“Only a selection of staff knows I perform comedy and they are extremely supportive. I have a perfect work/life balance and couldn’t be happier.”
Being able to find that perfect balance of working and performing helps – and it’s one that he shares with his wife, Anya Scott-Rodgers – formerly of the Singing Kettle, and now part of Funbox.
Yet it was a far more grown-up affair that saw the husband and wife first meet – when Stuart played the title role in STV’s serial killer drama In Search For Bible John. “She played my first victim, and you know what they say...you never forget your first!
“The whole cast met up prior to filming and I instantly liked her. Intelligent and cute – they say opposites attract! She makes ME laugh and as a comedian we don’t laugh very often. We normally prefer to nod our head and say ‘that was funny’.”
And with the two being live performers, Stuart’s happy to take tips from Anya – and try to give a couple of his own. “I obviously read through her scripts and suggest kids jokes – which she normally ignores!
The Funbox cast and crew are true professionals. They give it all in every performance. The one thing I learned from them is in regards to meet and greets. After nearly every show they take the time to meet the kids and audience members even if it means they grab a bite of a sandwich before the next show.
“I think that personal touch shows a lot of who they are as people so I always try and thank the audience personally after my own show. If it wasn’t for them buying tickets there wouldn’t be a show.”
Stuart Mitchell’s show Dealt a Bad Hand comes to Eden Court on Thursday, July 13, starting at 8pm. Tickets (£12) are available from www.eden-court.co.uk