Tim Key at Knock2Bag

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

To end the night, Tim Key: the headliner, the current holder of the Edinburgh Comedy Award… and the man who ultimately ensured the gig ended with a disappointing whimper, rather than a bang.

His gauche, low-energy performance engenders a discomfiting atmosphere in any situation, but he’s usually saved by the awkward brilliance of his poems, and the myriad wry footnotes with which he explains each of them. Tonight, something went amiss.

Key takes umbrage at being described as a ‘deliberately bad’ poet, saying: ‘There’s nothing deliberate about it.’ Unconventional might be a better adjective, as there’s certainly evocative language and witty jokes in many of his whimsical verses – about cooking with dew, for example. And the hilarious image of his father – who we are constantly reminded comes from a different generation – with his jar of Ragu sauce is an indelible one.

But ultimately a set that mischievously flirts in self-indulgence threw itself headlong into that abyss. Poems were abandoned for a spoof improvised story game, with Key the only participant, and verses even more obtuse than his normal canon. The regular chuckles turned into embarrassed titters – combined with impatience at an act overstaying his welcome – until few than half a dozen people seemed to be entertained by the agonising filibustering.

Key didn’t appear to mind – in fact he seemed to take perverse delight in the pain his slow death was causing – but it was a sorry end to a promising set (and an otherwise outstanding night) from a comedian capable of much better things.

Review date: 19 Nov 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Bar FM

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