NEED a break from bashing your head against the advancing wall of Brexitannia? You could do worse than celebrate the recent successes and glittering career of Alan Cumming. And in so doing, surprisingly, find some extra energy for the long haul.

Firstly, Cumming is currently the star of America’s No 1 rated entertainment show. In Instinct, he plays a criminal psychology professor called Dylan Reinhart – the first openly gay lead character in US TV drama.

From the clips available, Cumming is his usual poised and attentive self, dressed in what could only be described as college-lecturer burlesque, and evidently having a ball with Whoopi Goldberg as his mercenary literary agent.

But in the promo around Instinct, Cumming does what he’s done for a while: speak forthrightly in his still-discernibly-Aberfeldy accent, while fielding questions about how distracting it is to hear him act as an American. “Distracting for you?! Welcome to my world”, Cumming tweeted a few days ago.

In any case, Cumming’s world – on social media at least – is a tonic. Not least because the exuberance that many of us remember from his earliest days in Scottish TV and theatre is still untrammelled.

There’s plenty of puppy pictures, gushing on US morning telly, random cabaret performances and men making art with unexpected parts of their body.

But there’s also endorsements of Democrat candidates, anti-gun protesters and anti-Trump petitions. And you wonder what his American fans might make of his detailed interventions on “keeping Westminster’s hands off Scottish Powers”, the latest funding stramash at Creative Scotland, or Amnesty Scotland’s reuniting of refugee families. Not to mention his “listening to Radio Scotland talking about scat. No words.”

There is a basic pleasure to be had from watching fellow Scots get away with being (mostly) themselves in a US showbiz context.

Connery and Connolly are the obvious precedents, but there’s a current roll-call. Kevin McKidd in Gray’s Anatomy, Karen Gillan as Nebula in the Avengers, Ewan McGregor in Fargo, Rory McCann in Game of Thrones (and Gerard Butler in whatever’s available).

It’s still weird to go back online and sample Craig Ferguson’s decade as the presenter of CBS’s The Late Show. All the way through he maintains essentially the same persona as his 80s’ Glasgow stand-up routine.

So yes, you may be frustratedly railing at the broken progress towards a Scotland fully in the world. But there’s no doubt that the Jockerati are out there, maintaining Scottish soft power and attractiveness, TV-couch by TV-couch.

There’s another resource that Alan Cumming’s surging spectacle brings to a weary Scottish scene. And that is a need for lightness of being, and a will to happiness. Especially in the most leaden and depressive of circumstances.

In Instinct, Cumming’s character has written a best-selling treatise on “abnormal personality disorders”. The plot of the series is about a serial killer who is consciously exploiting the insights of his research.

But it won’t have escaped the cultural historians how typical all this is – casting a Scot to play someone who pokes around in the cellars of human behaviour.

Robbie Coltrane as Cracker immediately comes to mind, but you can connect it to even deeper sources like James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner, RL Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or our current magus of deviance, Irvine Welsh. Never mind the blood-soaked gutters of Tartan Noir and Scottish crime fiction.

Cue those who bemoan our endemic Scottish miserabilism. How will we ever raise the optimism required for any collective advance in this country if we keep looking into the abyss, and take entertainment from the abyss waving back at us?

The public intellectual Gerry Hassan has argued recently on the need for a new and radical “gentleness” in Scottish life. “The presence of gentleness says something about what sits deep within the person, and its absence shows a sense of ill-ease and not being fully present,” writes Hassan.

“Gentleness has a rootedness in self, but also a willingness to let go, reach out, and lose oneself in interaction with others. Thus, gentleness is one of the key facets in a genuine, lasting sense of generosity and hence, interconnectedness, solidarity and redistribution. Key qualities which have been undermined in recent decades.”

Letting go, reaching out, and losing yourself in others? As far as I have sampled it over the last few days, that pretty much sums up the Cumming life-stream.

Hassan goes on to make the point that Scotland has “a pronounced, problematic masculinity, which has restricted the parameters, voices and style of what we have been able to talk about”. Cumming, in a similar way to Connolly with his angry and abusive father, has made his own protests against this masculinist mindset.

While promoting his autobiography Not My Father’s Son, Cumming notes: “When I was a child, I had to learn adult skills, trying to deal with a father who was very unpredictable and volatile. So nowadays, in my work, I have embraced childhood or a child-like wonder. Acting should be just like playing … Yet I’m also aware that acting is what I had to learn to survive my father.”

So one way to deal with the abyss is to tweak its ruddy red nose. And yet like Connolly, the angry men of Scotland haven’t managed to dissolve Cumming’s sympathies with his home country.

In 2013 I spent an afternoon with Alan in Glasgow, as he was researching and presenting a TV travel show called Urban Secrets.

He was kindly, witty and thoughtful – and very fluently pro-independence. As we skipped and chattered around Byres Road, demolishing two double-nougats at the University Cafe on the way, I remember having a little private exultation.

At that time, Yes and No were throwing thunderbolts of ideology and policy between them, landing on enemy lines and scattering (metaphorical) bodies everywhere.

But, I wondered, could life in an independent Scotland instead be about this kind of playful curiosity and energy? About appreciating the assets we have, and enthusiastically wondering how things could be better?

It would be easy (and completely understandable) to scoff and snarl at such a luvvies’ take on the future of Scotland. As recently reported, this society still has a million people living in relative poverty – a statistic that also hasn’t shifted since the early years of Connolly in the 70s.

Shouting and bawling about models of control and sovereignty is the only way to deal with this, no?

Or do the professional angries shut down everyone else’s openness to change? As Hassan concludes, a Scottish public sphere defined by rage and attack – “in which people pause, have a sense of foreboding and self-censorship” – is damaging to all of us, “limiting our possibilities as people and a nation”.

It’s been a pleasure to digitally hang out with Alan Cumming for a few days, and enjoy his success. As his Twitter profile puts it, he’s “a Scottish elf trapped inside a middle-aged man’s body”. Otherwise known as a true gentleman. And to re-inspire a Scotland somewhat ground down by its struggles, we may well need a dancing phalanx of those.

Instinct will be on Sky in the UK before the end of the year.