The Glaswegian comic's rapid ascent continues at the Ulster Hall
Kevin Bridges is just 23, but he is already on his way to being one of the UK’s top stand-ups. In May, it was a packed Waterfront Studio; now it’s a sold-out Ulster Hall. Don’t be surprised if he’s playing the Odyssey next year. The Clydebank-born funnyman looks at least 30, and unleashes his jokes with the confidence of a 50-something veteran. He’s not too rude, not too cruel – but he’s not a middle-of-the-road Michael McIntyre type either. This is just excellent comedy.
As well as a lot of material based on his upbringing in the rougher parts of Glasgow, Bridges delivers some first-class observations on Belfast culture. He makes fun of the Clements café chain’s slogan, ‘We’re religious about coffee,’ suggesting it may not be the best mission statement for a business in Northern Ireland. Later, he highlights the absurdity of holding ’80s nights in Belfast, as if this is a period in time the city would want to celebrate.
Two of the funniest gags will be familiar to anyone who has seen any of his growing number of television appearances. Bridges explains how he studied psychology for a week, but became disillusioned when he read that Freud had said all men have sexual feelings towards their mothers. ‘He obviously hadn’t seen my mother,’ smirks the comic. He also does a great bit about the contrasting English and Scottish responses to seeing him on TV (‘I don’t quite understand everything you said – your accent is really quite strong’ versus ‘I seen you on telly talking like a gay-boy’).
Bridges is not short of bravado. There is no support act – ‘for amateurs’, he snorts – and he brags, with a cheeky grin, about how he’s ‘big-time’ now he’s been on TV. He can be self-deprecating, such as when he mocks his weight, wondering if he’s fat enough to warrant a Channel 4 documentary: ‘The 14-Stone Man’, perhaps. It could be about wearing 36-inch-waist jeans and eating a whole packet of Jaffa Cakes after dinner, Bridges supposes.
He is on form with the audience banter, too. Much of it is directed towards a man named Dave – coincidentally from the Glasgow suburb of Easterhouse – and his girlfriend, who have got the last two tickets in the venue and are sitting in corner seats of opposing balconies. Bridges attempts to reunite them, but they aren’t playing ball.
Elsewhere, he hilariously refers to a group of lads in freshly pressed jeans and crisp checked shirts as ‘the Top Shop autumn-winter collection’. But he stumbles when an audience member says they’re from Bangor. Bridges has nothing. He is also momentarily lost when someone says they own a miniature schnauzer, a dog he hasn’t heard of.
But these are wrinkles in an otherwise textbook show. Those of us here tonight are privileged to witness the latest stage in the rapid ascent of a comedian who is certain to go from strength to strength. Arenas by 24? Nae doot.