Author Topic: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?  (Read 11496 times)

HappyTree

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Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« on: January 08, 2011, 01:03:18 AM »
There once was a Scotsman Phil Kay
Whose comedy lines were so gay
But he grew a beard
And then disappeared
Much to his admirers' dismay!

Phil Kay was the dog's bollocks at one time. I don't think I've ever laughed so much and so hard as when I went to see him perform. Cat videos notwithstanding. He just had this magical quality of naturally zany, but genuinely rib-tickling humour and not only dealt with hecklers well but spun their interjections into quite arse-weepingly brilliant routines. He could riff on something for half an hour and have you gasping for air.

Where is he now?

Here is a quite funny example. It's the energy he brought to the performance, he just explodes.

Phil Kay Feels Technical Part 1


Rev

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2011, 02:25:15 AM »
Can't say I was ever a massive fan, but it's certainly odd that someone who had their own series on BBC2 dropped off the map so sharply.  The last time I saw or heard him in any capactity was in a pub audience in Edinburgh a good few years back, where he'd shown up in a thin crowd to give his mate on the stage some encouraging over-stated laughs.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2011, 02:38:06 AM »
I saw him on an episode of QI recently. I can't remember if it was a new one or a repeat on Dave though, so it still may be several years since he did that.

Jemble Fred

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2011, 02:39:57 AM »
I saw him on an episode of QI recently. I can't remember if it was a new one or a repeat on Dave though, so it still may be several years since he did that.

That was 2004, it seems. I was never a big fan, but you've got me worried now; his site's not been updated since early last year. Does anyone have his Mum's phone number? Maybe you should alert the police.

HappyTree

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2011, 02:55:03 AM »
He's probably got a "proper job" in production or something and is a proud father. How dare he get a life, his role is to make me laugh and reminisce about my student days in Glasgow when anything seemed possible.

placeholder

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2011, 03:13:14 AM »
He's playing the Glasgow International Comedy Festival in March unless he's died.

thecuriousorange

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2011, 03:48:15 AM »
I met him less than a month ago after a gig organised by a friend. So I can tell you that he's still performing and is a bloody nice bloke.

easytarget

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2011, 04:46:32 AM »
j'member? eh? eh? j'member Phil Kay? Whaweretha allabout?

I do. I saw him in Edinburgh, he was already on stage when the audience arrived and refused to leave (just stayed on playing guitar) insisting the we should go.

I'm not sure how much material he has, he certainly gave the impression of just being manic and coming up with things off the top of his head.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2011, 06:26:10 AM »
He's still a regular at the Edinburgh Fringe, performing at least two shows (one for children, usually) throughout August every year. Having seen him live around a dozen times, I can vouch for him as one of the most inspired, inspiring, inventive comedians currently working. But given the free, improvisational nature of his work, he can also be incredibly tedious and disappointing. It all depends on whether his mojo is operational on the night.

I don't think he writes material as such, but rather comes up with loose ideas that he uses as a springboard. I could be wrong.  I've only rarely seen him deliver anything which could be described as a formal routine[nb]The clip above is obviously a pre-prepared anecdote, but - possibly for that very reason - it doesn't really capture him at his best.[/nb]. There is always the odd kernel of structure in there somewhere - he's a shaggy dog storyteller, really - but his work rises and falls on wherever his imagination takes him.

But when it works, he's just dazzling, fascinating, brilliant. He's made me laugh until my eyes hurt, but I couldn't even begin to give specific examples why. His comedy is unique to the moment, an experience which can't be captured or recalled unless you're there at the time. 

He's a brave, iconoclastic, often hilarious but just as often frustrating comedian with an eccentric, life-affirming world view which, when it chimes with a willing, encouraging audience, can provide one of the best live comedy experiences around. Either that, or complete disaster.

I suppose these are the reasons why he's never really made it on TV: too odd and unpredictable. A live performer in the definitive sense.

In short: who's the jazz comedian now?

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2011, 07:26:41 AM »
That's about the size of it.

Phil's lovely but can be quite, ah, fragile. He seems to suffer from fairly serious moodswings, the effects of which he's been known to temper with the odd stimulant/relaxant (as appropriate). Never knowing which Phil is going to turn up is part of his appeal as a live performer, but it probably makes him a tv producer's worst nightmare.

He's undoubtedly 4Real and easy enough to catch live if you live in the central belt, but you pays yer money, etc.

Famous Mortimer

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2011, 08:14:22 AM »
Was he the one who did the show about Amsterdam? I remember hating his attitude in that show, but he has dropped off quite a distance.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2011, 09:21:10 AM »
Saw him at the Edinburgh Fringe this summer as part of 'The Crack' and he was brilliant.  I think people sometimes assume a comedian has stopped working just because they're not on TV any more.

Jemble Fred

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2011, 10:04:36 AM »
I think people sometimes assume a comedian has stopped working just because they're not on TV any more.

Not really, it's more to do with all his official info stopping dead several months ago as if he fell into a canal and nobody noticed: http://philkay.co.uk/flash/index.html

Nearly all his web presences are Mary Celestes: http://philkaysblography.blogspot.com/

Jake Thingray

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2011, 10:34:41 AM »
Another thing, as discussed on here, that renders that book SUNSHINE ON PUTTY irrelevant is the space devoted to Kay's C4 series, in the apparent belief he was going to be some kind of megastar. Reminds me of when a BBC2 series called TALK OF THE EIGHTIES, with Joan Bakewell, seeking to sum up that decade, selected not Elton, Enfield or Mayall, but John Sessions, as its representative of "the new alternative comedians".

HappyTree

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #14 on: January 08, 2011, 12:16:38 PM »
Ah, good to hear he's still doing his thing. He has one of the best comedic presences I've ever seen, a bit like Eric Morcambe in that respect. He just needs to look at you and you crease up. One gig I went to, he began by poking his feet out under the curtain. He riffed on that for about 5 minutes, it was hilarious. I think he must pipe laughing gas into the auditorium! He then did his "I'm not leaving until you all stop laughing" routine, which was good for another 15 minutes. I also fell victim to his "ask someone the time and make a face at them when they look down at their watch" gag. LOLZ

doppelkorn

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2011, 01:21:10 PM »
Wow! I only vaguely remember him from my youth seeing bits of him on TV but now I see where Ross Noble gets a lot of his schtick from.

thecuriousorange

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2011, 01:22:49 PM »
I saw him get completely naked, before inviting a volunteer to wrap him up in toilet roll like a mummy.




[spoiler]

Then he got off the bus[/spoiler]

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2011, 01:27:14 PM »
Then he got off the bus[/spoiler]

I was fortunate enough to be a passenger on one of Phil Kay's open-top bus rides through Edinburgh about ten years ago. The sight of him leaping off the bus, frantically dodging traffic on Princes Street and then waving at us from Waterstones' large, upstairs bay window while shoving a stolen book about Greyfriar's Bobby up his jumper, is one I shall take to my grave.

On the same journey he also stopped the bus next to a startled man pissing in a hedge in broad daylight. It was quite a trip.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2011, 01:40:14 PM »
Was he the one who did the show about Amsterdam? I remember hating his attitude in that show, but he has dropped off quite a distance.
Wasn't that Phil Nichol?

Edit- I've never been to see Kay because I somehow get the impression that he's a performer in decline. I suppose that's really just because there's no buzz around him these days. I've seen him off-duty in Edinburgh's Forest Cafe and really don't care for the way he dances.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2011, 01:49:16 PM »
Hmm, Wikipedia says he wrote for The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. That can't be right, surely? Vic and Bob write all their own material. Wikipedia also suggests his last TV appearance was as a guest on Russell Howard's Good News in 2009. Poor bugger.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_kay

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2011, 02:15:10 PM »
Wasn't that Phil Nichol?

Phil Nichol's (IF.Comedy winning) show 'The Naked Racist' is all about a night on the razz in Amsterdam, so probably aye.


Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2011, 04:44:57 PM »
I’m a long-time lurker, but this seems like a good time for my first post, as Phil Kay is my favourite comedian. I first saw him on TV, with a slot on Barry Cryer’s “The Stand Up Show”, in the mid 90s. He bounded onto stage like a puppy, demanding an enthusiastic “Give us a ‘D’! Give us an ‘E’! Give us an ‘H’!”, eliciting the predictable Pavlovian response from the audience, but went on to deliberately fizzle out the chant with increasingly mumbled letters until the audience’s unison degenerated into incoherent vowels and consonants. I was instantly hooked by his playful subversion (another variation of his is “Give us a ‘D’! Give us an ‘E’!” left hanging with a downbeat “Thanks. Magic.”). Along similar lines, as Happy Tree mentioned, he often manages to wring 10 minutes of giggly hysterics by requesting complete silence from his audience, on the basis that his standup comedian Grandmother once advised him to get all of the laughs out of the way in the first half of the performance. The laughter comes partly from the audience being told that their laughter is forbidden, partly from his increasing feigned frustration at not being able to shut them up and get off the stage, but also (for me at least) from just how long he has the balls to push this tenuous joke for.
On his day, he can pluck dozens of beautifully crafted ideas and one-liners that Daniel Kitson might spend months carefully honing, from thin air, seemingly at will (and I say this as a huge fan of Kitson). His anecdotes often appear to start underwhelmingly, from a germ of truth (“I was at Glastonbury one year, stumbling around drunk, and I ended up getting into the wrong tent – it was so embarrassing”), only to slowly spiral off into the absurd (“and I ended up going home to live with her in the wrong house for 6 months – it was so embarrassing!”). And end with an almost contemptuous abruptness (“and then I vanished…with a trace. As opposed to without a trace. I left a slight bit of slime behind”). On the other hand, I’ve been to gigs where he’s told stories that are so painfully true and confessional that it can be hard to listen. Once in particular a story about burying the baby of one of his close relatives, which – not surprisingly – didn’t contain a single comedy moment, reduced many of the audience to tears.
He’s about as far from a feedline/punchline comedian as it’s possible to get, but he has a pretty good stock of pithy one liners (at a gig during the Iraq war,“the American tanks have stickers on the back: ‘01-100-155 – How’s my invading?’”). And a joke so perfect that even though it was hidden in the midst of an anecdote at a gig about 10 years ago, I still remember it:
“I injured my finger, and it occurred to me that I didn’t realise how much I relied on it until it was out of action. My Uncle died a while ago and he was saying that until then, he hadn’t realised how much he relied on his whole body”.
His physical comedy is also as good as I’ve ever seen on stage. Obviously, this is rather difficult to convey in print, but on his “That Phil Kay video”, there is a section of improvised slapstick involving a piano, a bucket and a ladder that is utterly sublime (although I realise it might not sound that funny to read). If anyone knows an easy way of recording a VHS onto a Mac or PC, I’d be more than happy to capture it and upload.
Having said all of that, as Ballad of Ballard Berkley rightly says, his shows can miss as well as hit (and increasingly so, unfortunately). If you get an unlucky break, you’ll have paid a tenner to watch him consult his watch a dozen times and apologise to a disgruntled audience that he just doesn’t feel funny that evening. In fact, one show that a friend of mine came to after much hype from me consisted of Phil Kay spending most of the hour checking with the audience on the seriousness of tonsillitis, which his daughter had just been admitted to hospital with. On occasions, I’ve seen him break off to lecture himself to relax and let it flow, in an attempt to get the show on track.
All this is the downside of his genuine authenticity, I think, but absolutely worth it for the chance of catching him on a high.
Anyway, apologies if I've rambled on. Even if this is my first and last, I hope I’ve contributed something useful!




Smeraldina Rima

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #22 on: January 08, 2011, 05:10:04 PM »
Great post, David Pielingtonburygrot. Phil Kay is the funniest comedian I've ever seen, but yep, he can be woeful too. I love his anecdote about going at exactly the speed limit alongside the road cops and then moving the seat forward to overtake them.

Also I remember he made a good documentary about William McGonagall.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2011, 05:11:31 PM »
Yeah, lovely stuff DP.  Makes me want to see Kay again soon!

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2011, 06:39:21 PM »
Indeed. Excellent post, "David Pielingtonburygrot" (if that is your real name).

HappyTree

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Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #25 on: January 08, 2011, 07:35:47 PM »
I loved the skit he did about flying, getting the little bag of goodies and trying to use everything in it to get his money's worth. He fell asleep, woke up to the sight of the tiny toothbrush and consequently thought he had become a giant. It also contained a joke I use on airline ground staff to this day:

Which seat would you like, window or aisle?

Aisle...

Ok

No, no, I mean I'll...have a window seat.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2011, 08:43:22 PM »
Another fan here. I used to watch his "Feels" show repeatedly. I like the improvisational approach he uses. Some nights it might not come off but when it does you know you've witnessed some magic that nobody else might again.

His story about meeting Noel Gallagher was ace too.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2011, 11:48:50 PM »
Another Phil Kay fan here, about to repeat what everyone else has pretty much said and not nearly as elegantly as DP at that.

He (Phil Kay) was one of the first live stand-up acts I ever saw and he's a name I've looked out for ever since. Hadn't heard anything about him for a while and then he popped up at my local comedy night the other month, but typically the weekend I was away on holiday.

As people have suggested, he's one of those comedians who you're never quite sure what you are going to get and it adds an excitement to the evening that you never get with someone reeling off a scripted, well rehearsed act. At his best he's electric and up there with Kitson.

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2011, 12:54:35 PM »
I have in my mind that he made a deliberate decision to eschew television (?) - nothing solid to back that up though.

Guess it's vaguely ironic in this thread, given the topic of the example clip, but he certainly seems to be a bit of a technophobe.

I've seen him more than once rail against "people stroking bits of non-responsive glass" and imploring people to have "real" connections with each other. Which I think is more than an act - I think it's true that he doesn't have a mobile, and it's not a surprise that websites wouldn't be up to date.

Obviously he's older now - and now tends to wear gentlemanly tweed and sport a deliberate anachronistic attitude in a way that reminds me of Billy Childish and his "Stuckism". ( wiki link for Billy Childish, if needed : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Childish )

As already said, his shows are predominately improvised - he's done brilliant sets at an improvisation festival I've been invovled in the past couple of years at Bristol Old Vic - memorably in the first year (late 2009), half way through his gig in the main theatre he persuaded the whole ( admittedly not capacity ) audience up onto the large stage . . . as we giggled confused and amused at the transgression something slowly emerged from the wings - Simon Munnery dressed as a ghostly Elizabeth I . . !

Phil explained he was going to lead us through the bowels of the building and onto another stage, where another show was going on - a long form endurance play / improvisation show whose players didn't know we were coming . . . it was quite exciting and the "other" players and audience handled it well, in fact we were all "forced", or spontaneously decided, to work together until Phil led us back through the bowels again to the main theatre to continue his show, though of course he never really "stopped" and continued to entertain all the way as he lead us prancing through the dark corridors.

And as mentioned before, there was blurring of when the show officially started, and stopped, with absent mindedly strumming of his guitar as people came in, and, after some persuasion, as they exited at "the end" . . . though when he finally "finished" he actually continued to prance and entertain in the bar outside until the wee hours . . .

I am also a fan.   

 
« Last Edit: January 09, 2011, 03:40:58 PM by mr_h »

Re: Whatever happened to Phil Kay?
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2011, 03:34:08 PM »
Blimey. Posts like that one, and many of the other descriptions of his act, are just kind of thrilling.  I loved his show when it went out, and definitely must revisit it.  You just read the above, though, and think - why isn't telly capturing some of this [type of] magic, this looseness, this experimentation?