As a long-standing member of North East improv troupe, The Suggestibles, Ian McLaughlin has made a living out of making things up - and funny - on the hoof.
But his latest project, a one man show dedicated to his recent search for the father he never knew has clearly had a lot of time, thought and love lavished upon it.
A professional comedian, with a back catalogue of more than 100 adverts to his name thanks to a purple patch in 1980s London when he was a jobbing actor, Ian is well aware of the importance of good timing.
However, as we are taken through half a century of his life - from his birth on the day of John F Kennedy’s assassination to the present day - we find out Ian’s instinct let him down when it came to his dad.
Brought up by his grandparents in Washington, where a trio of bullies made his school life less than idyllic, it wasn’t until Ian was 14 that he found out his dad hadn’t actually died in a motorbike accident.
But any feelings of curiosity were locked away for the next 30+ years until the death of his maternal grandmother - and her last words to him: ‘you’re just like him’.
This planted the seed for a journey to find out who his dad really was, whether they had anything in common and what that meant for Ian’s long-held position on the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate.
I know what you’re thinking. This doesn’t necessarily sound like the funniest foundation for a show.
But Ian has put his considerable comedic talents to decent use here, sewing a gentle and charming humour into his debut script, which allows him to tell this very personal and poignant story with a smile as well as a tear... emotions which were shared by those listening.
He also makes nifty use of a time-travelling Tardis (Doctor Who is a recurring theme throughout) and a family of screens, which are built in to the storage-room-style set and allow us to put a face to the names of the people we are being introduced to.
The show is previewing at Live ahead of a 10-day run at the Edinburgh Fringe and in line with Ian’s laid-bare honesty, I would have to say that I don’t think it’s quite where it could be yet.
But hey, this was only his second performance and I have no doubt that with a bit more of the TLC with which it has obviously been made, this will be a very lovely way to spend an hour in the theatre... before going home resolving not to let the grass grow when it comes to picking up the phone.