For our second show on Comedy Saturday, Mrs Chrisparkle and I took the gang to see Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, a show we’d already seen in Edinburgh last summer, which we both found knock-out funny, and was in fact the recipient of last year’s Chrisparkle Award for Edinburgh Best of the Rest – which is rather a graceless title that I think I need to alter. It appears that this was probably the last ever performance of the show in this format, so any spoilers I reveal in this review, aren’t really.
You’re greeted by Floor Manager Will who explains that it’s a recording of a TV show and warns us not to wave at the cameras. As if we would. He also advises us to laugh at anything Kev says that’s funny – or thinks is funny; and whilst happily reminiscing over Kev’s successful tours in the past, he reminds us not to mention 2012… as it wasn’t a good year. Naturally, the only person who mentions 2012 as the show progresses, is Will; but there is a limit to which even he can keep up that chirpy positivity when you’re dealing with a bunch of pensioners watching the recording of a show that is pure bumf, and featuring guests with the social graces of Sooty and Sweep but with none of their sense of humour. By the time the show’s started he’s already dissed Kev for attracting nothing like the number of punters as Stephen Bailey had the previous night, and as for that Romesh Ranganathan….
I digress (like he did). Will’s introductory speech totally sets the scene for what’s to come. Even before we’ve met Kev we know a) he’s not as funny as he thinks he is, and b) his life and career had a big tumble which he hasn’t come to terms with. You just know that during the course of the next hour we’re going to see this guy start to (apple) crumble and watch his career go down the (hot) pan. If that sounds rather sad – well, it is! But that’s the strength of the show: watching Kev kling to the wreckage as his guest celebrity turns out to be po-faced, patronising and thick as two short fish fingers, as his guest comic gets more laughs than he does, thus building up Kev’s resentment against him, and as his high-flying guest chef lets him down at the last minute to be replaced by Marco Pierre Shite. It is the comedy of cruelty, played straight to emphasise the seriousness behind the laughter, but always with the accent on the comic rather than the cruel – until it descends into a semi-apocalyptic free-for-all at the end.
Rather like when I worked in Contracts Management for the local council, anything that could go wrong in the recording of Kev’s Komedy Kitchen, does go wrong. The pre-prepared meal for them to taste is inedible because Josh the assistant forgot to put the oven on, (or rather, in the case of Saturday’s performance, he says he did put the oven on, much to Will’s surprise – nicely handled, sir) the po-faced celebrity refuses to try any of the food, the celebrity chef’s cordon bleu creation is a Sainsbury’s Scotch Egg and the guest comic returns at the end to physically assault Kev for being such a knob. All the while Kev is progressively getting more and more inebriated as the po-faced celebrity refuses to sample the Chardonnay, which is really all the excuse he needs to gulp it all.
It’s a genuinely hilarious comic creation that, once started, is a crash course to oblivion for our Kev with no way out. Beautiful performances from everyone, with Will Hutchby positively effervescent with enthusiasm until the sequence of disasters makes him tear his hair out, and Hannah Blakeley is spot on as the ghastly Grace Loretta, whose freakish Orwello ends up writhing all over the stage mad as a box of frogs. She had me at Halloumi (you had to be there). Mike Newall brings all the vibrant personality of Liam Gallagher on a downer to his dour celebrity chef, and, as the guest comic, Liam Pickford wiped the floor with his erudite gag about how a Southern fried chicken baguette mixes cuisines of two origins and therefore could be seen as cousins who might kiss at a Christening. He also wiped the floor with Kev once he’d slung him a few left hooks. Plus, of course, Kevin Dewsbury brilliant as the eponymous Kev, brave in the face of adversity, prickly when his professionalism is doubted, conducting hilariously awful interviews, pushing old puns to the limit and beautifully portraying that day in a person’s life when, as one disaster follows another after another, they just reach the conclusion: f*ck it.
As suspected, our fellow comedy-goers loved it too. Even though the original Komedy Kitchen has now gone to that great Aga in the sky, it will be back in a new format as The Second Cumin and I for one can’t wait to catch it in Edinburgh later this year!