The Scotsman Sessions #397: Chris Forbes
Chris Forbes is probably best known to television viewers as Scot Squad's lovelorn rural police officer Charlie McIntosh, who finally got together with his colleague PC Jane Mackay (Ashley Smith) last year, after a decade of his puppyish, unrequited pining on the BBC Scotland mockumentary. But he's also built a considerable following as hapless Duncan Murray, the overlooked third brother in the Murray tennis dynasty, desperately seeking approval from his disappointed mother Judy, portrayed by the woman herself.
Fans of both Charlie and Duncan, and indeed of Forbes' earlier creation, the goth stand-up Damien Crow, ought to enjoy the comic's new Scotsman Session video, featuring the musical instrument that's been an occasional, recurring note in all their shows.
“It's the bane of my existence at times because I really don't play it much anymore” Forbes admits. The 41-year-old writer, comic and actor, who was raised in Bridge Of Weir revering Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham as much as The Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise, has a varied live comedy résumé that spans stand-up, character and sketch, having also been in the trio How Do I Get Up There? with James Allenby-Kirk and Kevin Mains.
“Directors and casting directors in auditions have often said 'can you play this or that?' And I've had to say 'no, I can only play this'” he confesses of his energetic but limited musical repertoire.
From their earliest online skits together, Duncan and Judy have now performed several full-length shows at huge theatres around Scotland. Forbes maintains that the Murrays “love comedy but even more than I would have expected.
“Judy in particular has an image with her hard stare and really pushing her sons which she likes to lean into. But she's actually very laidback and playful. She comes up with loads of ideas and is incredibly funny.”
Even Grand Slam winner Andy has participated in their videos. And with him and Jamie now in the twilight of their playing careers, Forbes is hopeful that they'll eventually be able to arrange a live family “reunion”, “which would be absolutely great – just once at least”.
Forbes has already reunited with Allenby-Kirk and Mains on stage, almost a decade on from them shooting a BBC pilot, “very much feeling the slapstick and falls as older guys”, with an eye to doing a show at the 2025 Glasgow International Comedy Festival.
At this year's event though, the 6'2” comic is performing his stand-up show Court Jester. As a 16-year-old basketball player, he moved to an America high school in 1999 with dreams of joining the NBA, encountering quarterbacks, prom queens and heartbreak, but also finding the path to his true vocation.
“I certainly don't compare myself to Andy and Jamie,” he says. “But I've spoken to Judy about how with periphery sports in Scotland – anything outside of football basically – opportunities are always going to be greater elsewhere. I can relate to [the Murrays] having to go abroad to succeed.
“That year in America was probably the most enjoyable of my life. Before, I was too scared to do a show about it because it was so crucial to me, it changed my whole direction. Now I'm capable of doing it justice.”
Chris Forbes: Court Jester is at Oran Mor, Glasgow, on 17 March as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival, www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com