Kent Valentine: Fablemonger

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

By his own description a ‘long-form storyteller’, Kent Valentine’s focus is not necessarily on wringing every last gag out of a situation, but on taking his audience on a scenic journey through wittily-described situations.

Indeed, the closer he gets to straightforward stand-up, the less assured he is. The preamble he indulges in with the front row doesn’t really pay off, while the first fable that he ‘mongers’ – about getting frustrated with his GPS navigation system – is a little flat because it seems like an underpowered club routine.

But once he settles into his more sedate pace, this assured storyteller demonstrates an enviable ability to draw the audience into his yarns, having them hang on his every word. This, his fifth festival show, revolves around him moving to Britain and becoming a father to young Florence. However, the best tale of the show involves neither, but is instead a convolutedly long, but witheringly devastating putdown to his ignorantly self-centred potential brother-in-law.

But we also hear of his surprisingly incident-packed mission to collect a pram for his new daughter; about the Peak District pet shop staff he teased and – unforgettably – his father’s wonderfully sweet way of describing betting shops to the young Valentine.

That gift for the perfect image must be genetic, as the grown-up Valentine has it, too, as he is uniquely skilled at making the most out of what might appear to be very slight material.

On the face of it, some his stories contain very little meat and no obvious punchlines – but his talent is in absorbing the listener so fully in his evocative descriptions, that you have the emotional attachment to the tales you don’t have with a simple gag. Thus engrossed, pithy comments that emerge naturally from the stories really hit home, catching the listener by surprise and given extra impact by their context.

If this is what appeals to you, there are few finer exponents of the unhurried comic story than Valentine.

Review date: 15 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.