Tattoo Dave is a comedian (Image: Newsquest)
A Glasgow comedian has revealed what it is like to perform in Barlinnie prison.
Tattoo Dave, whose real name is David McKinely, is a stand-up comic who isn’t afraid of any crowd, including locked-up inmates.
The 46-year-old, from the West End, has even had to put some of Glasgow’s most brutal criminals in their place for heckling as he visits prisons across Scotland.
It comes as he performs with the Wholesome Prison Blues collective, a group of six who have completed 26 gigs for convicts since last November.
Speaking to the Glasgow Times, Tattoo Dave said: “The prison shows are great; it is an extreme environment compared to a pub or club.
“We need to think about the material we use as well; many of them don’t know what things like Netflix and JustEat are because they have been inside for so long.
“Barlinnie is brilliant, we have done three gigs there now, and the guys are always lively and up for a right laugh.
“The place has a brutal reputation, so you must be prepared to deal with that and the hecklers in the crowd.
“When someone shouts out during the show, you don’t know who they are or why they are in Barlinnie, it can be scary, but you just need to be confident and banter back.
“Sometimes I put them in their place, and it goes dead silent, then there is that split second of panic that maybe I went too far with the wrong person.
“Every time it ends in the room erupting with laughter, though, we carry on with the show.”
Wholesome Prison Blues collective aims to reward well-behaved prisoners with comedy to give them respite from their sentences.
Tattoo Dave hopes their visits will encourage rehabilitation within Barlinnie and set the convicts onto a better life path.
The group is also developing creative writing and performing workshops with the inmates to give them more skills and confidence.
Dave explained: “One of the things I love about doing these prison shows is because they can make a difference in these guys’ lives.
“Some guys are in because they never had opportunities on the outside, and now they can access education and help with addiction.
“The comedy gigs play a small part in helping people leave a stronger position than in Barlinnie.
“Prison should be the punishment; they should do their time and get help to be a better member of society.
“It also helps us because if we can go into a prison on a cold winter Monday morning and make 30 guys laugh at 10 am, then going to a festival or comedy club should be no problem.”
Tattoo Dave is performing at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, revealing stories of what it is like inside the prisons.
He also has gigs in Glasgow at the Stand on Tuesday, August 22.
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