The National:

SCOTTISH comedian Jamie MacDonald says he is using his blindness as an “asset” in his run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. 

Originally from Glasgow, the star of Radio 4’s Life on the Blink and comedy series The Scotts is currently performing his latest show, Reasonably Adjusted. 

MacDonald has had quite the career trajectory, having initially studied ancient history at the University of St Andrews before going onto work in the banking sector in London. 

He told The National: “I came out of university not knowing what I wanted to do. I did a degree in ancient history and then a law conversion but I knew for a fact I wasn’t going to be a lawyer.

“I quit that and my dad and brother were both accountants so I just fell into that. I didn’t like it but I was in Shoreditch in London where they have the Comedy Café. 

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“The credit crunch hit and to be honest it was a good thing for me because I don’t know if I would have quit. 

“I didn’t instantly get into stand up, I was doing bits of writing here and there and some voiceover stuff but eventually did my first Fringe show in 2013.”

MacDonald says that, as a family, they “never really talked about politics round the table but instead tried to make each other laugh”.

“So I like to think I’ve won that battle now I’m a comedian,” he adds. 

His Fringe show focuses on why blindness isn’t the worst thing in the world, as readers of the New York Times once suggested in a poll when asked what the worst thing that could happen to them was. 

MacDonald started to lose his sight in his early teens due to a progressive degenerative retinal disease. 

“It’s not setting the record straight so much but it's putting another opinion out there that disability and happiness can be mutually exclusive,” MacDonald explains. 

The National: Image Credit: Mihaela BetlavichImage Credit: Mihaela Betlavich

He adds: “I really don’t think it’s that bad, it doesn’t flavour the big decisions in my life.

“I kind of pigeonhole myself. As a comedian you’re holding the mirror up to life, but mine is coming from a blind perspective so people expect me to do it from that because otherwise I’d be wasting it when it’s really an asset for my comedy.”

Following on from two years of Covid, MacDonald is grateful that the festival now finally has a sense of normality to it again. 

He said: “It’s brilliant being back. People are joyous because last year it was difficult with Covid, the one-way systems and Perspex everywhere. 

“I know Covid isn’t gone but we can manage it better now and everybody is fired up. The place is packed. It’s convivial. I’ve been drinking for about 15 days straight now.”

As a comedian, he also had some thoughts on the recent controversy surrounding American Scots performer Jerry Sadowitz, who had his show cancelled owing to numerous complaints made to The Pleasance Theatre. 

Sadowitz has since released a statement about the show’s cancellation in which he said: “I ask nobody to agree with anything I say or do on stage.”

Asked about the row, MacDonald said: “I think it’s dangerous because everyone knows who he is, he’s controversial. He’s been picked up on saying words that are massively inappropriate though. 

“Sadowitz is not an idiot, he’ll have been doing something nuanced and I think that comes down to taste which I don’t think you should be cancelled for. 

READ MORE: Jerry Sadowitz releases statement after Edinburgh Fringe cancellation

“Comedy is a demand-led industry and if people don’t like you, they just won’t go see you. The way not to feel unsafe about an act is to not go see them.”

After the Fringe, MacDonald says he will be making an appearance on the next season of popular quiz show QI before going back to “doing weekends in mad places all over the country”. 

Reasonably Adjusted is running at the Edinburgh Fringe from 3 to 29 August.