Kevin Bridges: A Whole Different Story | Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Hammersmith Apollo

Kevin Bridges: A Whole Different Story

Gig review by Steve Bennett at the Hammersmith Apollo

As Jeremy Corbyn takes an entirely predictable kicking at the hands of the mainstream press, he might take solace from Kevin Bridges.

For this most everyman of comedians, a bell-weather of what ordinary blokes think, takes time from his widely relatable observations to indulge in a little politics, questioning David Cameron’s austerity fetish and offering a common-sense – if exaggerated – reasoning as to why squeezing the poor makes no economic sense. He’s no Thomas Piketty, but the simplistic approach is appealing to this Hammersmith Apollo-sized focus group.

This, however, is but a minor diversion from his route of affable anecdotes, which largely concern his changing status of age, wealth and girth. He seems to have been around forever, but Bridges is still only 28, an age when his social group are settling down, perhaps reluctantly. A stand-out routine in what could have been a familiar trope revisits his classic take on the ‘empty’ house party, with his now older mates, more desperate to wring out their now strictly rationed fun as long as possible. It’s forensically well-observed, resonating with everyone who is, or has been, a similar age.

Bridges is not only older, but richer, thanks to a stratospheric career, and another productive seam comes from him now living in a well-heeled enclave of Glasgow, a far cry from the rough estates of Clydebank where he grew up. Here he fears intimidated intellectually, by the over-educated children or their smug parents… a nice volte-face compared to the usual middle-class comedian talking about the physical intimidation of ‘da yoof’.

For you can take the comic out of Clydebank, but you can’t take Clydebank out of the comic, and much of his comedy now comes from the clash between where he’s from and where he is. He’s even bought a speedboat – the peculiar working-class aspiration drilled into him from a hundred 1970s gameshows – though it did land him in trouble on Loch Lomond, thanks to the lager he took with him.

Never is the contrast more dramatic than when talking about losing weight, a process leaving him in hilarious befuddlement at the concept of chichi superfoods like quinoa, when his more down-to-earth advice is to choose a less calorific brand of crisp. Perhaps that’s why it took him a decade to lose four stone, bringing him to 14 now.

Yet of course, he has his simple past to mine, too… and he must surely be the last generation of comics who’ll be able to speak of a pre-internet upbringing when he had to make his own entertainment. And his climactic routine (save for a very hastily convened encore) involves the terror of a teenage sleepover in a family with their weird habits.

The authenticity of these tales is palpable, and Bridges has long mastered the unaffected cheeky, bloke-in-the-pub brand of stand-up, with a way of telling things straight that’s a well-established characteristic of his hometown. None of that has dimmed though his move up the socio-economic ladder.

And even in the larger venues plays – thanks to a sizeable contingent of Scots, even in London – Bridges has maintained the techniques of the clubs. Well-meaning but unfunny heckles seem part and parcel of the night, and he rolls cheerily with them while gently mocking a patsy he appoints in the front row. The whole hour is delivered in an intimate tone, him chuckling at his own gags or occasionally glancing subtly left and right, a tacitly conspiratorial gesture that cements the atmosphere of this being playful banter before the boss shows up. But, of course, Bridges IS the boss…

Review date: 15 Sep 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Eventim Apollo

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