Saturday, February 11, 2012

Daniel Kitson, The Hob

Daniel Kitson, the bearded bespectacled behemouth of British comedy, as close to a comic genius as we've got in this country, a real natural, a genuine funny-boned amusatron, is back in the room. He's been away for a couple of years, but now he's back, back with that effortless funny, you know, the kind that is just funny cos it's funny, it doesn't even have to be true, it could be untrue and it would still be funny, that's how funny it is. Funny.

He's back, he's been away, he says he got bored of comedy, he's started to hate it partly because it's like the new Carling or something, but mainly he says because it was too easy, it was as easy as taking a shit, he says, it just came out, so he veered off into theatre, and I don't want to just regurgitate his act so i'll just say that he says his theatre is like his comedy except slightly different but he says it in a joke. But right now he's doing £3 shows upstairs in a South London pub, trying out his stuff, working it out, for his big tour in the future, his big comeback, but the truth is he's not even really working it out really, because he already knows what out of his material is good and he's bored of it already. Instead what he's doing is he's just working out, getting into training, limbering up. He's not even doing the material he's going to do on the tour, he's just riffing. It's a bit of a comedy masterclass, a bit of one, he shows you the working out, the thought processes that go into the finished articles, and he's keeping it all as fresh as he can and if it starts to flag at any point he's got the comedy chops to draw it back up, at his leisure, so it's no risk, even for the crowd.

He's generous, our Daniel Kitson, to a fault. Two hours he does and by the end it's too much, who the hell wants to listen to someone for two hours? Seriously, no matter how funny, two hours listening to one person is straining at the limit, it wears you out, but you can't complain because it's only £3, so what if he does too much and you're gasping for a pint at the end.

Of course I couldn't help comparing him to Stewart Lee, obviously since he's also a generous comedian, and also because I saw him the other day, and I think I'm going to say that Daniel Kitson is funnier than Stewart Lee the way that, well, I was going to compare Daniel Kitson to Stevie Wonder in 1973, and Stewart Lee to maybe I dunno someone quite good, with a few hits under their belt, but not as accomplished, or perhaps not as natural as Stevie Wonder, um let's say the Commodores, but to be honest the comparison seems stupid now and I don't want to make it, but the truth is that I can't imagine Daniel Kitson ever doing some of the slightly laboured tactics that Stewart Lee was indulging in the other day, because Daniel Kitson could get comic material out of an empty bag of crisps and Stewart Lee, well maybe he can but he doesn't want to, that's what he'd have you believe, I suppose, that he's above the tragic business of making people laugh. Which I can understand. I can get that. Why would you want to make people laugh, just because you're a stand-up comic, sorry, just because you've been defined as a stand-up comic, actually that's just the capitalism talking, yeah right, that's just the fucking factory system putting us all into boxes, me into a sort of factory-worker box, office bunny box, you into a stand-up comic box but you're more than that, You're more than making people laugh, you're a visionary at the vanguard of making people laugh, You're pushing the boundaries of making people laugh and think and therefore you're fully prepared to come and do a let's call it a slow two hours, moaning about your life when actually you're taking home fucking loads of dosh for it.

Which is what Daniel Kitson, in his generous way, alluded to, the spectacular amounts of money that are getting earned by these comedians. Those people you think of as the pinnacle of overpaid, these comedians are up there with them. Even those not caning the TV panel show-arena-tour-DVD circuit, even if you're just doing 400 seaters for tenners, you're still taking home (according to the generous Daniel Kitson) three grand a night. Stewart Lee's tickets, just for the record, were £20. And he was doing 40 nights, in a 420 seater, so very plausibly, even at a conservative estimate he's taking home £5000 x 40, that makes fucking 200 grand for a couple of hours every couple of nights for a couple of months

And he don't even get accused of selling out.

The truth is he was flogging CDs in the booth after the show, so I suspect he's got some pretty heavy gambling debts or a smack habit or something. Well, if he has, maybe he should write a fucking joke about it.

Anyway, back to Daniel Kitson, he's a modern comedic marvel, he came on 15 minutes late, because he'd lost his comedy notebooks just an hour before in the West End and riffed on what had happened for about half-an-hour, you know funny as you fucking like about losing four months of notes, that is the definition of a modern comedic marvel, I mean that's what you're aiming at, really, you don't need material, you are just funny, and then anything you talk about is funny: that's the pinnacle, and Daniel Kitson's in that realm. Admittedly, he did lose me slightly after he'd explained how much money he's making, I guess because so much of stand-up comedy depends on the comedian being somehow a conduit for the crowd, somehow representing us, a funnier, more observant version of us perhaps, but a recognisable us. That's why it's helpful if the comedian's a bit flawed, a bit fat, or needing beer bottle glasses or got a stammer, because we're all like that, or at least we fear we are, and the comedian embodies that part of us, but the truth is once you're raking in £200,000 upwards, those kind of figures, you know, you're not really one of us, you're one of them. Which is what Daniel Kitson was saying.

But Daniel Kitson is a modern comedic marvel, and I know this because after I came out my head was zinging with ideas and stuff, things to say, I was dosed up on creative juice, partly maybe because after just sitting in the dark concentrating on someone else for that long your mind is like a wound-up jack in the box, ready to leap out in all directions the minute you can get a moment to yourself, but also because the best, most creative people in the world light up your brain circuits with their genius, they gift you their genius, and Daniel Kitson did that.

Stewart Lee, to be fair to the fat, sell out jokeless cunt, did also light up my circuits, after I came out of his show I wrote a joke that I later put on twitter and it got one retweet and I mean that in a good way. In actual fact I thought of another gag that was about Stewart Lee not liking people insulting him on twitter (which it turns out they don't do, or at least not nearly as much as they go "wow Stewart Lee's fucking brilliant I love him", but he doesn't read out those quotes because he's not big-headed) and it was to do with if I saw him in Stoke Newington, where he explained in the show that he mopes about a lot, miserable about how much money he's making doing something that he supposedly loves; so if I saw Stewart Lee in Stoke Newington I'd run up to him and say “Oi, Stewart Lee, you fat, miserable jokeless fucking sell out cunt, do you prefer it now with me yelling in your ear in the street, you know, like we used to do in the 1980s, or would you prefer that I went and squeezed my bile into 140 characters that you could quote in your show, would that be better?” And that was my material about Stewart Lee.

But this review is not about Stewart Lee, who I like, I think he's funny, which is why I'm nicking his schtick, this review is about Daniel Kitson, who also earns too much money, footballer money, and he's fucking a very funny fucking guy, you know, like Stewart Lee is, but funnier, and he has the added bonus of actually writing material, because he sort of thinks, at a guess, that that's what it is to be a stand-up comedian, which is what he sees himself doing.

Maybe I'm bitter, I mean I'm not above saying I'm bitter, you know I write this shit, I mean let's be frank, less fewer people are going to read this than could fit into the toilet of the upstairs of the pub where Daniel Kitson did his set tonight, you know, and why's that, because it's bitter ramblings or because as Daniel Kitson generously said, it's mostly down to luck (and making an effort, which I haven't done), and also possibly writing sentences that start and finish on roughly the same topic. You know the sort of thing: selling out. Which brings me to one last question, why isn't it called selling in, there's two kinds of selling out, being a sell out and having a sell out, and one of those two should be called selling in, I don't care which, but one of them, because selling out so often follows selling out that it's hard to know which comes first or, as it happens, what I'm on about.