One of Britain's greatest unsung comedians decontructs the stand-up oeuvre
Kevin Eldon is one of the best-known faces of modern British comedy. Having spent the last 20 years working with luminaries such as Stewart Lee, Chris Morris, Graham Linehan and many more, his appearance in a television or stage show as become almost a hallmark of hilarity.
The actor Kevin Eldon (as he is also known) has played supporting roles in most of British comedy's funniest series of the past decade. Chairman Mao as Bryan Ferry in Big Train instantly springs to mind, as does his Simon Quinlank character from This Morning With Richard Not Judy.
However, Eldon is rarely seen performing on his own. It is no surprise, therefore, that a peak audience at the Black Box eagerly awaits his one man show, Kevin Eldon is Titting About.
First to the stage is Monaghan comic and self confessed geek, Lorcan McGrane. Laughter fills the cosy room as McGrane regales us with tales of his rural Irish upbringing: 'A boy called Tommy threw a dead seagull at me in the playground… the thing was, we were 100 miles inland. Did he bring it home from his holidays?' McGrane’s self effacing set is esoteric, occasionally filthy and always funny.
The next act announced is ‘the poet Paul Hamilton’, but when he takes to the stage the audience instantly recognise him as Eldon himself. What follows is a short parody of a contemporary poetry reading, and it sets the tone for the evening perfectly.
Eldon's comedic acting capabilities are remarkable. His vocal gymnastics are impressive, and while this is a parody of a poetry reading, it is a very, very close one, brilliantly spoofing the type of derivative performance (replete with faux-whimsical asides) that we have all seen far too often.
When Eldon reappears as himself, his aim quickly becomes clear – he is here to deconstruct the idea of what a one man comedy show can be, and to skewer just about every cliché that goes along with it. The vocal gymnastics of ‘Paul Hamilton’ are now replaced with physical gymnastics, as Eldon prances about the stage screaming his new ‘catchphrase’: 'I’ve got no knees!'
All the while he pauses to ask audience members such questions. 'Have you come far?’ he asks. ‘Are you two together?’ before cutting them off and yelling, ‘Why would you tell me? It’s no business of mine!’
Observational comedy is next to get it in the neck, with Eldon very clearly mocking comics of Michael McIntyre’s ilk, working himself into a gibbering frenzy and begging to be loved.
Just about every style of stand-up comedy is skewered throughout the evening. However, it is far more than just a case of spoofing or mocking other acts. The real genius of the show is that Eldon is extremely talented at just about every form of comedy he skewers.
He is able to do more with a simple change of hat or a moustache on a stick than another prop comic could do with an entire fancy dress shop. With one flick of an eyebrow or facial contortion, he becomes a living, breathing character, the highlight of which is undoubtedly a rapping, heroin addicted pensions stakeholder.
One criticism could be that we never see the ‘real’ Kevin Eldon. However this seems entirely logical to me. Kevin Eldon is, after all, less a man and more an unstoppable, unmissable comedic force.