Daniel Kitson: Weltanschauung

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Since his Perrier win in 2002, Daniel Kitson has made a stubborn – and to some extent unsuccessful - attempt to shun popularity; a stance you could easily attribute to his general grumpiness and contrariness.

This show is, in part, his attempt to explain why. His theory is that the more people who experience an artistic endeavour, the worse it becomes, as the very subtleties and ambiguities that make it great are flattened out for the mainstream’s sensitivities. It’s Kitson’s version of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – that by observing something, you change it – but as applied to American singer-songwriter Ben Folds rather than subatomic particles.

If that all sounds as high-falutin as it is quirky – well, it is. Kitson makes no apologies for couching ambitious existentialist arguments in abstract terms, or equally expanding trivial irritants in his life to major sociological standpoints. But he also swears a lot, so keeping everyone happy. Everyone, that is, who doesn’t bristle at his frequent use of the c-word.

Weltanschauung, as this show has been titled after a highly specific German word for an overarching worldview, offers a more ambiguous, and less romantic, idea of life than Kitson’s previous shows. It makes for 75 or so minutes that don’t have the same tender emotional fragility he often deals in, but it is more intellectually interesting.

But whatever he’s talking about, he is enough of a master craftsman to know when to go on detour, drop asides and slip in a pompous one-liner to get the laughs - all the while staying true to his well-considered train of thought.

He’s come to realise morals aren’t absolute, even though he might wish they were, and it’s the ambiguities that make life interesting. He talks of the club comics who get laughs from reinforcing certainties – that, for example, by mentioning Amsterdam a sordid tale of drugs and/or sex will follow – yet with Kitson the attraction is letting him scrutinise areas you don’t expect.

Most of the humour comes from his acute self-consciousness. He’s painfully aware whenever he’s being antisocial, arrogant, or grouchy – yet by turning it into a joke, his petulance is excused.

It still remains refreshing to witness a comic with such a distinctly personal outlook on life, so lucidly expressed. Comedians who bring such unique artistic sensibilities to their work are still rare, and Kitson is still top of the tree.

Reviewed by Steve Bennett
Melbourne, May 2006

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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