The London Underground Song (And Other Ballads)

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

The Arctic Monkeys put much of their success down to growing a cult following on the internet. Adam Kay, one half of Amateur Transplants, can certainly put down his almost-sold out Fringe gigs to much the same reason: The London Underground Song became one of those viral internet phenomena that went around inboxs nationwide a year or so ago.

A doctor by trade, Kay saunters onto the stage dressed in blue scrubs and isn't afraid to show off his qualifications in songs where he discusses at length the Latin names for medial conditions and the variety of drugs on offer to treat them.

Kay's songs are generally wonderful, the vast majority being set to existing tunes with merely a change in lyrics: it can be the most lazy form of musical comedy but Kay doesn't just change a few words, but rather sets up intricate new rhymes that utterly transform the song. Kay's favourite and most oft-used technique is to set up a pull back and reveal gag in a song verse, with the punchline coming with the chorus. It does tend to get you thinking ahead to the original chorus to try and guess what's coming, but to Kay's credit they're rarely that obvious.

One thing Kay should very much be commended for is not dragging out his parodies. Many of them just run to one verse and chorus, as once the punchline is out of the bag he doesn't see the need to drag it on for two more verses with decreasingly funny lyrics. Kay would rather move on to a new song and a new joke, and he has the breadth of material to keep it up, which makes a refreshing change.

There are some negatives, Kay's persona is rather off-putting: he opens the gig by warning the audience not to clap during songs as it stops people hearing the words, understandable but confrontational. His between-song banter is poor, though he seems aware enough of this to limit it. He also seems visibly nervous and uncomfortable in these links, but that soon evaporates once he starts playing.

This less-than-friendly persona also makes the overly misogynist tone to some of his songs uncomfortable, an early song is reminiscent of Mitch Benn's Crap Shag, but lacks the self deprecating second verse where he points out he's as bad as the girl he's singing about. Add to this a song about women drivers and the size of his penis and it's a little worrying, if still very funny.

Last year a reviewer of Tim Minchin claimed that 'if you take away his piano, he's just a bog-standard stand-up'. If you take away Kay's piano, you're left with nothing but an awkward man. But give him one and you get some of the best comedy songs out there

Dean Love


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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