The Original Stand Cowboy Goes Out with a Bang (of the Gavel)

“We’re keeping our iconic cowboy, but it’s time for him to lay down his gun.” - Mike Jones, Managing Director

Auction to take place at 5pm, Monday August 15th - at The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh EH1 3EB

The cowboy is going nowhere, but after a quarter-century, he’s earned the right to lower his arms. 

A piece of comedy history, it’s only right that the famous stage backdrop gets its own show: An unprecedented Stand auction slap-bang in the middle of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. 

Hosted by The Stand’s very own Fred MacAulay, legendary Scottish comedian and one of the company directors, the auction will be a chance for the highest bidder to walk away with the dismounted backdrop* and do a whole lot of good in the process. It will start at 5pm at The Stand Comedy Club, 5 York Place. It is free to attend and we will be encouraging bids in-room. Please register your interest by emailing [email protected] There is a reserve of £1,000.00 

Replacing our cowboy will be, well, the cowboy. A new painting by its original painter (more on that below) will be installed before the start of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with the trademark image, just without the gun.. New backdrops will also be completed in our Glasgow & Newcastle clubs.

Proceeds from the sale of the York Place venue’s iconic backdrop will go to an exciting new initiative as The Stand works with local primary schools to encourage young people to write and perform comedy and get a chance to perform on our stage. The project will be led by long-time resident comedian Jay Lafferty (Breaking the News, Scot Squad) and follows a recent trial event with Carnock Primary School from Dunfermline.

About the cowboy:

Its painter, Thomas ‘Mac’ Macgregor, was involved in setting up the club and his work has been permanently on display in the Edinburgh venue since 1998. A recent finalist on Sky Arts’s Portrait Artist of the Year, old family photos of his younger brother Dave in costume as a cowboy served as the inspiration for his oil paintings which featured in his BA degree show at Edinburgh College of Art some 25 years ago. 

Says Mac: “The first was a small 1ft square with the face blanked out and some cigarettes (Johnny Vegas bought that one) Then I made a series of paintings with me and the cowboy.  [The backdrop] was lurking in the back of the club for a few months before Jane and Tommy asked if it could be used for publicity. Dave and his dimple probably deserve more of the credit. “ Timelapse process video here.

*The backdrop is 9 feet high x 8 feet wide , oil painted on two and a half full size panels that will be dismounted and repaired with bespoke touch-ups from the original artist. Transport will have to be organised by the buyer.

About the initiative:

We want to work with young people from schools and community groups to encourage them to develop their comedy writing and performance skills. As well as developing creative skills and self confidence for all those involved, we want to open young people’s eyes to comedy, whatever their background.

Who knows, we might even discover the next Kevin Bridges or Daniel Sloss.

In June 2022 we worked with Carnock Primary School, Dunfermline in which their P6 & P7 students took to the stage for the first time. It was a resounding success. Here’s what they said:



Vicky McCauley, Class Teacher, P6/7:

“The children have grown so much from the start of the year.  They embraced the comedy writing block of work and I think they really surprised themselves that by the end they were performing in a real comedy club in front of an audience. The parents are still raving about the show.  We are all so impressed with the professionalism and quality of The Stand.”


Angus, age 11: “I think that it was the best experience that I have had at school and I would go again. The Stand was awesome. I was shocked about how many famous comedians have been there. I will remember this experience forever.”

Junior, age 10: “It was really scary doing comedy writing. I found it hard to write the script as I’m dyslexic but I enjoyed performing it. My teacher helped me with the script and my parents listened when I practised at home. The Stand was an experience I will remember because its not something we would usually do.”

Elizabeth, student, age 10: “Doing comedy in the class was really fun. Writing my own comedy set was the best homework. I love making people laugh! I got a new life skill out of it, and it will look good on my CV. Performing at The Stand was the bees knees. Thank you for letting our class come.”


Ben Cook: “Seeing my 10-year-old daughter performing on the stage, the morning after Frankie Boyle had been on it was brilliant. It was interesting to see [it] filled with loads of laughing children and their parents. Watching my daughter overcome all her nerves to deliver a performance to be proud of is something I’ll never forget. The confidence she gained from presenting in front of quite a large group of people will do her a world of good in the future and to be able to say that she has taken the stage at Edinburgh’s premier comedy club is something special.

All of the money raised by the auction will be put towards setting up a new charity which will deliver this exciting new project. We will also be applying for funding in order to be able to cover the project costs.

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