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Farmer Jim Smith takes to the stage for his stand-up tour

Rosie Mor­ton donned her wellies to meet Perthshire farmer Jim Smith, whose dry wit has taken the stand-up com­edy scene by storm

Scot­tish sum­mer ar­rived – it was a Wed­nes­day morn­ing in May, in case you missed it – and there was no bet­ter day to don the wellies and visit Perthshire farmer Jim Smith. But while Jim may have mas­tered the art of grow­ing the per­fect tat­tie, cre­ated what he calls his ‘Teuchter trac­tor playlist’, and tuned into the enig­matic ways of his ‘work­ing sin­gle moth­ers’ – his prize yows – Jim is no or­di­nary farmer.

Tempt­ing though it may be to kick back at the end of a long week, gin in hand, Jim in­stead drives into the

cities of Scot­land, tak­ing to the stage as a fab­u­lously dry-wit­ted stand-up co­me­dian – some­thing he likes to call ‘di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion’. Now so­cial me­dia sen­sa­tions, Jim and his beloved yows have be­come ru­ral celebri­ties.

‘This is Mary McGre­gor, one of my prize yows,’ says Jim on his BBC com­edy se­ries Farm Di­aries. ‘Mary is also chair­man of the Sheep So­cial Com­mit­tee. Her and some other sheep or­gan­ise so­cial events for the other yows. Things like bingo days, whist drives, day trips to Stir­ling Cas­tle – just to keep the sheep amused.’

Ar­riv­ing at Jim’s 300 acres of ten­anted farm­land, which was taken on by his grand­fa­ther in 1949, we were ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some­thing of a trop­i­cal heat­wave – 22 de­grees, no less. Hav­ing spent four years at Aberdeen’s SRUC, the lo­cals’ weather ob­ses­sion be­came a hot topic in many of Jim’s north­east-in­spired gags. It was five years ago that the re­spon­si­bil­ity for the farm fell to Jim, some­thing he has whole­heart­edly em­braced.

‘I couldn’t imag­ine do­ing any­thing else, I wouldn’t change it for the world,’ he says, while Floss, his five-mon­thold col­lie, races round his legs. ‘This is my favourite time of year. Lamb­ing’s done, most of the calves are out, the grass is be­gin­ning to grow and the days are longer. The pres­sure’s off a wee bit and you can en­joy it.’

But Jim has never been far away from com­edy. Ex­plain­ing that he’s al­ways seen the funny side of life, it was at Young Farm­ers that he truly caught the bug for stand-up.

‘They do a cabaret com­pe­ti­tion every year,’ he ex­plains. ‘The first year you’ll maybe give a hand with the props, then next year they’re need­ing some­body to come on as a horse or some­thing. Folk get roped into it. Two years later you’re the so­prano, you know! These big, beefy High­lander guys – be­fore they know it, they’re in a tutu do­ing Swan Lake.’

Go­ing on to do Red Raw nights at Glas­gow com­edy club The Stand, Jim has quickly worked his way up the comedic ranks. In­spired by the likes of The Two Ron­nies, Colin Campbell, Scotch & Wry, and Aberdeen’s own Des­per­ate Fish­wives, Jim is now tour­ing the coun­try with his Back to the Teuchter show

This is Mary McGre­gor, one of my prize yows – Mary’s also chair­man of the Sheep So­cial Com­mit­tee

– and if a day spent with Jim is any­thing to go by, it’s one not to be missed. Cov­er­ing all things ru­ral, from the tri­als and tribu­la­tions of coun­try­side dat­ing to the com­i­cal joys of vil­lage life, Jim’s sum­mer is set to be a busy one.

Fea­tur­ing in com­edy panel show Break­ing the News, The Farm and Farm Di­aries se­ries, as well as BBC’s Scot Squad – which is, quite in­cred­i­bly, very of­ten ad lib – Jim’s tour dates are quickly be­ing booked up. ‘It’s go­ing to be great craic,’ he laughs. ‘I think there’ll be a few checked shirts in the au­di­ence.’

Jim’s Twit­ter fol­low­ers also get hand­some help­ings of his quick wit, from Tweets about Theresa May pick­ing off ‘stanes’ on the back of a tat­tie har­vester, to grow­ing up with a Scalex­tric set that sported noth­ing more than a lone sin­gle­track road with pass­ing places.

‘It’s a great priv­i­lege be­ing asked to do stand-up. It might only be a pass­ing fad, but I’m not go­ing to be gut­ted if it peters out in two or three years.’

Jim’s yows and cat­tle will al­ways be his pri­or­ity, so he wastes no time in re­treat­ing to the coun­try­side af­ter gigs. Hav­ing helped his fa­ther in the fields as a young boy, his favourite job, of course, was driv­ing the trac­tor – and not much has changed. Blar­ing eight­ies power bal­lads, nineties dance mu­sic, Run­rig and Skip­in­nish from his trac­tor, he main­tains that noth­ing beats bum­bling around the fields on a sunny af­ter­noon. ‘BBC Alba’s fine good in the af­ter­noon – it’s got a good bit of Teuchter mu­sic,’ he says.

Head­ing out to ad­mire the views from his farm­house, we turned to Jim’s newly-planted vegetable patch. Though pre­dom­i­nantly work­ing with live­stock, Jim, his mother and his girl­friend Morag look af­ter a tat­tie field, and an ad­di­tional plot on the side where they grow peas, let­tuce and car­rots for their own use. Each plot, marked with a slab of slate and chalk, ‘looks more like a head­stone’, ob­serves Jim. ‘Aww, this one… He was a great let­tuce,’ he says.

So, what’s the lat­est on Mary McGre­gor and the other yows? ‘Well,’ Jim ex­plains, ‘Now the lamb­ing’s nearly fin­ished, they’re plan­ning their sum­mer trip. Last year it was to Stir­ling Cas­tle and this year I don’t know where they’re go­ing. I think it’s the beach in St An­drews, but I missed the last com­mit­tee meet­ing, ken.’

And what a sight that will be along West Sands. Let’s hope Mary and the girls go easy on the mar­ram grass on their an­nual leave. I, for one, look for­ward to their sil­ver screen de­but. What’s that movie called again? Che­viots of Fire? Tick­ets for Back to the Teuchter can be pur­chased at: seet­ick­ets.com/tour/jim-smith

Above: Jim, his tem­per­a­men­tal mother and farm­hand Don­nie on BBC’s The Farm; get­ting in­volved in a bit­ter turf war with his neigh­bour; Jim works hard to im­press vis­it­ing vet An­nette on The Farm.

Left: Jim and his five-month-old Col­lie Floss en­joy­ing the view.

Above: Fluffy the sheep look­ing happy as Larry in Jim’s arms.

Below: Jim at the Whyte & Mackay, Glas­gow In­ter­na­tional Com­edy Fes­ti­val.

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