Monday, February 23, 2004

REVIEW: Daniel Kitson (Whelan's, Dublin)

Does the “underground” still exist? And more importantly, can you win a Perrier and still be “underground”? The questions seem to bother Daniel Kitson far more than they do his audience. The folks crammed into Whelan’s don’t appear to need any convincing that this shaggy comic, with his flat, thinning hair, thick glasses, stutter and unruly Emmerdale beard, is, in his own special way, keeping it real.

Despite an appearance that is anything but instantly seductive, Kitson’s comedy relies on the man’s charm, on his polished way of drawing the audience into the eccentric, deeply funny and all too recognisable world of his material.

Kitson manages to bend every anecdote to reflect on a moral universe in which there are “clags” (a word coined by the comedian by amalgamating of two expletives, go on guess which two…) and “nice people” and precious little in between. The mix feels something like an English version of Taxi Driver, only played for laughs.

Whether recounting a run-in with a Hackney crack dealer, or an interview with Ned Sherrin, Kitson focuses on what happens when a soft, middle-class lad comes face to face with the hard, swearing, doorway-urinating metropolis.

It turns out to be a highly fertile area, one which remains consistently funny, while also -- with a craft that is nothing short of literary -- charting the darkest places of the modern city with bewildering poignancy.