review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Kev Orkian: The Illegal Tour

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

You might have seen Kev Orkian on Britain’s Got Talent last year when he initially wowed judges with his hilarious routine based on learning Elton John’s I’m Still Standing from a sticky CD.

It’s a brilliant bit of musical comedy, performed fantastically, although nothing else in his Edinburgh debut comes close. He is an appealing entertainer and gifted pianist, but his end-of-the-pier style and material is terribly dated.

His shtick is that he’s an Armenian illegal immigrant, and the entire act is based on the dubious comic power of a silly overseas accent and occasional malapropism. (‘I’m a big Elton John fanny…’ for instance). His is an simple Donald Gill seaside postcard view of the world, where foreigners are inherently funny, gay men are camp, limp-wristed queens, and a double entendre as blatant as ‘I’ve got a really big one!’ is the height of wit.

There are a few old pub gags thrown in, and a couple of rather uncomfortable jokes about Birmingham being full of Asians. Mind you, he recently supported Jim Davidson, so maybe something rubbed off.

Two things, however, save this from being as dire as this description sounds. First, he is an absolute charmer. The broken English gives him a naïve vulnerability, enhanced by his cherubic face, and he certainly makes the most of the childlike innocence he convincingly portrays.

Second is his stunning talent on the keyboard, raising the Roof with his nimble-fingered boogie-woogie or impressing with his deft classical medley. He only spoils it by trying to be funny, with the lamest of rewritten song lyrics. Reinterpreting Abba for Indians, Money Money Money becomes Curry Curry Curry – that’s the level of sophistication. And in a spoof five-minute immigrants’ musical, he changes the last word of the line Don’t Cry For Me Argentina for Armenia and doesn’t even bother with any more. I’m not sure whether we should be grateful it’s so brief, or furious that it’s so lazy.

Yet it gets a laugh, and although the audience is tiny, they seem to love every minute. One woman even arrived wearing a home-made Kev Orkian T-shirt, which is more than a little worrying. But he’s clearly got his fans, and is technically brilliant at what he does. It’s just that what he does belongs in 1978.

Review date: 10 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

What do you think?

Today's comedy-on demand picks


Tim Key headlines this night of comedy, music and poetry, fundraising in aid of the National Autistic Society tonight (Thursday) at 8.15pm, after the clap for carers.

Other comics taking part include  Harriet Dyer, Jack Carroll, Jay Foreman, Milo McCabe, Paul 'Silky' White, Edy Hurst, Tony Wright, and Will Andrews.

Click for more suggestions

... including Marcel Lucont's lockdown show plus a new episode of Jacob Hawley's Job Centre.

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.