Russell Kane\'s Theory of Pretension

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett


Russell Kane is an impressive comedy performer, a spirit,
energetic presence who's quick on his feet and able to work the
medium-sized crowd in his Pleasance Portakabin.

But the material's not up to the same standard, relying too
much on easy cliché and tired stereotype to get the laughs.

Railing, as you might expect from the title, he mocks pretentious
people as white-wine quaffing, hummus gouging people with names
like Rupert and a standing order for balsamic vinegar, but it's
a very narrow caricature, and one played out countless times
before. And to pick on people if they like an obscure art form
as pretentious smacks of reverse snobbery ­ especially in
a city in the midst of a month-long celebration of such cultural

That's not the only form of pretension Kane has a go at ­
although it is the main one ­ he's equally dismissive of
hippies, teenagers who adopt street patois for effect and advertisers
for trying to pass off their products as something they're not.

But the more you look at it, the more you suspect this was
a really badly thought-out idea. His dad, depicted here as a
blunt shaven-headed Cockney racist would surely consider his
more metropolitan son, earning a living from performing and sporting
a self-confessed 'E4 pilot' trendy haircut as pretentious. Although
the gap in values between father and son provide plenty of comic
fodder. I'm also giving him the benefit of the doubt that the
cod meaningless mathematical equation he devises to indicate
a pretension coefficient is an ironic bit of pretension in itself.

Enough of picking holes in his argument, and his confused
message. Away from this awkward theme Kane has some very nice
routines indeed ­ the adding of suffixes to words to soften
them, Shakespearean putdowns, and media imagery among them.

His spirited delivery is brought back from the brink of arrogance
with a self-deprecatory streak, calling himself a 'pikey from
Enfield' destined to present '100 Best Dog Turds' on cable TV.
And between seeing this show and writing about it, it's been
announced that Kane is indeed to be the face of a new digital
TV channel, Five US.

About half this show is superb, and half is subpar. But maybe
I'm just being pretentious to think so.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Aug 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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