Comedy Oddities: Chris McQueer’s Hings

chris mcqueens hings index
Chris McQueer is a Scottish writer who after finding fame on Twitter has published a couple of books of short stories, three of which have been adapted for tv, and the finished results saw him compared to the much loved Scottish comedian Limmy. The comparison’s a fair one too and not just because they share a country of origin, though it’s more that McQueer’s tales are similar to those found in Limmy’s Daft Wee Stories books rather than his excellent sketch show, which in some ways is a shame as Limmy’s tv work is much better than his written efforts.

Not that Daft Wee Stories is in any way bad, and the same applies to Hings, they’re just not that innovative in the way that Limmy’s sketches are. The first episode for instance is an amiable enough story about a young teenager who on the way back home from the chippy is convinced to swap their dinner for two bags of whelks, and though at first the teen’s father is furious when he tastes them he finds them to be delicious. But while the language used might elicit the odd smile it’s only the gross out humour at the very end where both get food poisoning and vomit copiously that might make you laugh, though personally it felt all a bit sub Family Guy to me and only an accidental death at the end made me chuckle.

The same applies with the third episode, a yarn where after getting on a bus late at night a young girl called Mel gets talking to an old man who tries to convince her that the earth is flat. Handing her a map but insisting she not open it until she gets off the bus, he goes on to tell her a story about a boat trip he took when young, and how the captain went off course and showed him the ice walls at the edge of the world. But when Mel eventually opens the map it’s just covered in shit, and cue another gross out ending which is reasonably grim with only the old man’s demented cackling made me smile.

I’ve nothing against gross out humour if done well but this is the kind of thing that I’ve seen countless times before, and a more interesting, inventive ending to both episodes would have seen me rate them much more highly, as both rely on the pay off being a strong one as there’s nothing that funny in them beforehand. Which is why I preferred the second episode out of the three, as that has some funny moments throughout, as a young guy fakes going to a party so that he doesn’t have to work, and his antics, and the language used in the narration, is much more amusing than anything found in the other two episodes.

I’ve been unable to find out if BBC Scotland plan to adapt any more of McQueer’s stories, if these three episodes were all they ever planned to make or if a proper series might be made off of the back of them. But if there are to be more I’d really hope they are a little more original, and not rely on bodily functions to generate laughs, McQueer certainly has a way with words and a unique turn of phrase and future episodes would be much better if they concentrated on that element of his work.

★★★

Alex Finch.
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You can currently watch the episodes on the BBC iPlayer here.

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