Russell Kane: Posturing Delivery tour

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Russell Kane’s father casts a long shadow over the comedian’s life and material.

As described on stage (selectively, Kane Jr admits, for comic effect) the patriarch was a domineering, short-tempered, ignorant, almost thuggish working-class bloke with narrow horizons and a constant rage at the world.

To his mind, Kane had two ways to go: to either become his dad or to become his anti-dad, opposite in every possible way. Faced with that stuck-in-the-mud machismo-led image of masculinity, he turned out camp, theatrical and with a thirst to ‘better himself’ – so providing an inter-generational conflict that turned out to be a godsend for his comedy career.

Much of this he has already described in his best show to date, Smokescreens And Castles, which is briefly recapped here. It’s relevant now because, at an indeterminate age somewhere in his thirties, Kane’s thoughts are turning to becoming a father himself. The premise here is how he would bring up this fictional son, whom he names Ivan, over the first 18 years of his life.

For a childless man, Kane has some strong opinions on parenting. His binary mind categorises all children into demon spawn or little angels, attributing each outcome purely to the abilities of the parents.

He knows his idealistic advice on how to deal with troublesome tots might not go down too well with genuine parents. ‘Calm down,’ he tells his detractors at one point... even if those detractors are almost imaginary as his offspring.

That is part of Kane’s comic make-up; he’s forever on the defensive against critics he sees in his own mind – either middle-class ponces/comedy reviewers who he assumes want jokes about Proust and post-modernism; or the working-class Herberts who want knob gags and little more. He tries to cover both, but always seems more natural when talking about the latest batch of X-Factor wannabes than referencing ‘higher’ subject, when he is always compelled to explicitly highlight just how erudite he’s just been.

That he describes himself as concealing his daily copy of The Sun inside The Guardian exactly places him in that class structure: wanting to be seen as one thing, without quite escaping his roots, or really wanting to.

That is all part of the self-doubt he describes here; that behind all the bluster, technique and apparent confidence of his high-energy stand-up – as always, he pirouettes around the stage if controlled by an invisible puppeteer with Parkinson’s – he’s a confused boy trying hard to please.

All this is known to Kane, a master of self-examination, whose stand-up is a lot more introspective than fans drawn to his tour by his less weighty BBC Three work might have imagined. More than the cultural references scattered almost arbitrarily through the show, Kane’s best talking about himself.

This typically dense show covers a lot of ground, from his relationship with his family to an amusing catalogue of embarrassing sexual no-nos. The ‘Ivan’ device merely an occasional staging post he can return to between anecdotes. He’s emotionally clued-up and the stories are full of the linguistic grandstanding we have come to expect.

Occasionally he over-eggs the tales – a night out in the VIP section of a club with his mum might be unusual but isn’t as funny as Kane’s hard sell would have you believe – but for the most part this is personal observational comedy with an entertaining flourish. And, yes, posturing delivery...

Review date: 31 Oct 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Eventim Apollo

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.