Kevin Bridges: The Story Continues

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Kevin Bridges is worried about what repercussions the Jimmy Carr’s tax-avoidance scandal might have on his own affairs. ‘Wait till the press hear about me,’ he says. ‘I’m still signing on…’

For despite the arena-filling tours, and own BBC One show at the age of 25, Bridges remains Mr Ordinary; the working-class Glasgow lad who struck it lucky, but still keeps his feet on the ground. There are fish fingers in the freezer, the only documentaries he watches are presented by Danny Dyer, and he goes unrecognised on buses.

He’s the sort of everyman stand-up who makes everyone think they can be a comedian. So natural, so unaffected, is his style that it hardly seems written at all. However, the flip side of that relaxed style is that the show can slide into more workmanlike sections, light on punchlines with observations falling into the category of ‘stuff we’ve all thought about’. But for good company with bite, Bridges delivers.

A healthy cynicism pervades his act. His bullshit detector is in full working order, and once identified, he can destroy his target with a sharp wit – from the government plan to force the unemployed to work for free to boost their ‘self-esteem’ to the guff spouted by self-absorbed celebrities. His counter for that would be a chat show in which vacuous statements are greeted with a disdainful Glaswegian indifference: ‘Did ye? Aye…’

For you cannot take Glasgow out of Bridges; his personality is the city’s, and it comes as little surprise that there a lot of fellow Scots in his London audience. He celebrates both his home town’s no-nonsense approach and their hard-edged vernacular, the versatile use of the crudest of swear words becoming almost charmingly poetic. He also has some fun at the Old Firm rivalry – derailed thanks to Rangers’ financial woes – while his attitude to devolution is pretty much the same as his attitude to life: ‘Fuck it, it’ll be a laugh.’

The night has a conversational feel, underlined by his technique of returning to someone in the front row for each of his opening gambits, in lieu of seamless links: ‘Going on your holidays, Lee?’ introduces the bit about a lads’ boozy week in the sun, for example.

He has a scatological section on ‘ghosties’, that recalls Billy Connolly’s obsession with jobbies, has an awakening that the ‘para’ in Paralympics isn’t what he thought it meant, and – the most common staple of observational comics these days – has a story about a nutter on the bus. But here, he does what he does best, brining an everyday scenario to life with his sincere sardonicism and occasionally inspired turn of phrase. Across the night, he liberally uses callbacks for added chuckles.

It’s a short show, just an hour – plus 30 minutes from his opener, the similarly accessible Irishman Neil Delamare, who mixes potent punchlines with more functional fare such as mocking regional accents – and Bridges doesn’t know how to end it.

In fact, his encore is borderline shambolic, as he doesn’t have a purpose for coming back on stage. A brief ad hoc Q&A doesn’t go anywhere, and he momentarily lets the room get the better of him, thanks to a man in the balcony so keen on sharing his considered opinion of John Terry that he has to shout the same expletive a good four times. Told you Bridges’s unassuming approach could convince anyone they were a comedian.

It doesn’t take this idiot to prove that’s not the case, and Bridges’s ability to harness his natural, earthy humour into stand-up that reliably delivers shouldn’t be underestimated, even if sometimes he takes a slightly too obvious route to the laughs.

Review date: 2 Oct 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Eventim Apollo

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