Stand Comedy Club is auctioning off after deciding the cowboy should lose his gun


It provided the memorable backdrop to performances by Kevin Bridges, Frankie Boyle, Phil Kay, Stewart Lee and Johnny Vegas.

But now the famous cowboy, who has been an integral part of Edinburgh’s Stand Comedy Club since it opened almost a quarter of a century ago, is going to cause a stir with his own show.

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Patrons of the much-loved venue decided that the image of the cowboy with his gun painted on his head was no longer appropriate.

But they decided to honor “a piece of comedy history” by creating a special Fringe event that will see the oil painting, which is 9ft tall and 8ft wide, put up for auction.

Proceeds from the event, which will be hosted by The Stand favorite Fred MacAulay, will go towards a new initiative to foster a new generation of comics.

Elementary students will have the chance to write their own routines and perform them on the same stage where hundreds of comedians have cut their teeth since the club opened in 1998.

Stand favorite Jay Lafferty will lead a project aimed at “opening young people’s eyes to comedy, whatever their background.”

Jay Lafferty performing in front of the famous Stand Comedy Club cowboy backdrop.

The artist behind the original backdrop, Thomas MacGregor, whose works have been exhibited throughout the venue since its opening, helped launch the York Place club, founded by Tommy Sheppard and Jane Mackay, while studying at Edinburgh College. of art.

MacGregor, who based his image on an old family photo of his brother Dave, was asked to replicate the club’s classic “just without the gun” image by venue management.

MacGregor, recent finalist in the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year competition, said: “The first was a small 1ft square with his face masked and some cigarettes. Johnny Vegas bought that one. Then I did a series of paintings with me and the cowboy.

“The backdrop was hiding in the back of the club for a few months before Jane and Tommy asked if it could be used for publicity purposes. Dave and his dimple probably deserve more credit.”

The Stand Comedy Club has existed in Edinburgh since 1998.

An official announcement from The Stand said: “The cowboy isn’t going anywhere, but after a quarter of a century he’s earned the right to give up.

“A piece of comedy history, it’s fitting that the famous stage backdrop gets its own show – an unprecedented auction in the middle of the Fringe.” Hosted by legendary Scottish comedian and one of the directors of The Stand, Fred MacAulay, the auction will be a chance for the highest bidder to walk away with the backdrop stripped down and do a lot of good in the process.

Mike Jones, Managing Director of The Stand, said: “We’re keeping our iconic cowboy, but it’s time for him to lay down his gun.”

The stand was started by Sheppard and Mackay in 1995 at WJ Christie’s, a bar next to the Grassmarket. After several years of using various city center pubs, the new town venue has been secured.

Frankie Boyle is one of many comedians to have cut their teeth at the Stand Comedy Club. Photo: Robert Perry

The stand then expanded to Glasgow and Newcastle, where its clubs will also benefit from new backs.


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