First Gig Worst Gig

Eleanor Morton

Eleanor Morton

Who's the Scottish queen of the alt-com scene? It's Eleanor Morton, obviously, as that's who this festive edition of First Gig, Worst Gig is clearly about, although it would be pretty bloody alternative to announce one comic in all the headlines and pictures then interview someone completely different underneath. But no, this square old world just ain't ready.

Anyway, Morton is a mainstay of the admirably adventurous collectives ACMS and Weirdos, and a fine comedian, actor and writer when not indulging in multi-comic onstage hi-jinks. You can find her award-nominated stand-up show Lollipop on the increasingly goodness-filled NextUp platform. And she's just created a new series as part of the winter season by indie filmmakers Turtle Canyon: it's called The Ghost Police, co-stars the likes of Michael Legge and Lou Sanders, and drops next Tuesday.

"I made a ghost-hunting show where I drag different comics to different haunted locations every week," she says. "And I try and answer the question - 'am I afraid of no ghosts?'"

Details below. It's her ghosts of Christmases past we're keen to find out about now, though...

Eleanor Morton. Copyright: Ana Pio

Take us back to the Morton family Christmases - any interesting traditions?

My mum makes the Christmas pudding using the 100+ year old recipe her dad used. We don't do anything wacky. I suppose the weirdest quirk we have is that we all dress up in our nicest clothes, even though I have a tiny family of five people and so we're not really dressing up for anyone.

The closest we come to any traditions is my mum and my sister putting their favourite tacky decorations on the tree and then my dad and brother hiding them round the back of the tree for aesthetic purposes. There is a plastic owl ornament which doesn't go with anything else but my mum puts it on every year and then somehow it slides round the back of the tree.

Your best Christmas, ever? And the most horrendous Hogmanay?

It wasn't a horrendous Hogmanay, but I learned the hard way I don't like street parties. Edinburgh's meant to have the best one in the world but I'm not really into standing around in the cold while a band plays 100 metres away and some drunken dickhead tries to grope you. I'm pretty vanilla - my best Hogmanays are always just small house parties where you play silly games with your best friends. Or a Ceilidh can be nice.

The best Christmas was probably when I was 14 and I was in a theatre production of A Christmas Carol - it felt very festive spending a month in a beautiful theatre singing carols.

The best gift you ever got?

They all seem great at the time - I got a Furby when I was nine and that was great for all of twenty minutes which is exactly as long as it needs to be great for. The best recent gift might actually be the slippers my uncle got me last year - they are luxurious and are yet to fall apart.

Anything useful that lasts is nice, or any luxury you wouldn't normally buy yourself. It's also my birthday close after Christmas and this year I've asked for a Swiss army knife, partly because it's useful but also I think it'll make me look really cool.

And the worst present you ever gave, and got?

In high school I went through a phase of making presents and I don't think anyone really appreciated their denim-pocket glitter-glue coin purses. And one year I got a can of dry shampoo for brunettes.

Eleanor Morton. Copyright: Ana Pio

Christmas gigs can be tricky - any horror stories, or lovely shows?

I think all comics learn the hard way that Christmas gigs are horrible. Once you've gone through that you feel as though you've lost a bit of your innocence - it's a bit like finding out Father Christmas isn't real. Or that he is real but he's an investments manager called Jonathan and he's in danger of suffering a collapsing septum.

Now I try and only do gigs I know will be fun, like the Weirdos Panto or the ACMS Nativity. You make less money but your soul survives more or less intact. Christmas should be a time where you get together and do stuff with people you like, although there is something to be said for the trenches-style comradery you find at a club gig, especially once it becomes obvious 60% of the audience have been taking coke since 3pm.

Who's the most miserable, Scrooge-like Christmas git you've ever come across?

My boyfriend can be quite curmudgeonly. But he might just be doing that to annoy me. Other than that, I don't think so. Apart from comedians, but they are miserable about everything.

I don't really understand how you could hate Christmas unless something truly traumatic happened to you, like a family member being crushed by one of those giant novelty baubles you get in shopping centres.

Any New Year's Eve tips?

Yeah, you're only meant to cross your hands on the last verse of Auld Lang Syne, English people.

How do you feel about 2017, and what can we do to survive 2018?

It was a garbage year but at least it was garbage in a new way. Although (and I'm probably tempting fate) I feel like as horrible as everything is, this was the year people started to say 'the world shouldn't be like this'. So maybe the way to survive 2018 is to keep saying that. And if men can get used to saying 'You're right, that guy is a creep and I AM listening' that would be smashing.

The Ghost Police will begin haunting the web on Tuesday - here's the Turtle Canyon Winter Shorts trailer

For Eleanor updates visit

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