Author Topic: Daniel Kitson 2019  (Read 11463 times)

Small Man Big Horse

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Daniel Kitson 2019
« on: January 09, 2019, 09:57:35 PM »
Here's last years thread: https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/board,4.0.html

I saw Keep last night at the Battersea Arts Centre but have to admit I was a bit disappointed by it, some of it's sublime but it went on for too long (lasting almost two and a half hours when according to the site it's supposed to be one hour fifty minutes) and the ending felt a bit slight.

Here's a review I wrote of it for my site, but be warned it contains spoilers:

Daniel Kitson’s one of the most frustrating comedians ever to exist, which may sound harsh but he’s so popular that tickets for his shows normally sell out within a matter of minutes and as he’s been against the recording of them once he stops performing the shows you’ll never get the chance to see them again. There’s one exception to this in his astonishingly great “It’s Always Right Now, Until It’s Later” which you can rent for £3 and I’d recommend everyone doing so, it’s stunning stuff and one of my favourite pieces of comedy.

Now he’s doing a three week run at the Battersea Arts Centre of his new show Keep, and because there are so many dates for once it was possible to buy tickets with ease, a situation I’d never encountered before. Indeed as I write this review tickets are available for a few performances, and I would recommend your doing so. But that said, this isn’t Kitson at his very best, it’s a strong show with some sublime moments but it’s overlong and the way it ends is slightly frustrating.

At the beginning of the show Kitson comes out on stage and explains how this is a little different to his stand up shows and his storytelling pieces, and that the audience hasn’t always responded well. The plan is for him to read from cards a list of every object in his home, and that’s all we’re due to get, and supposedly at a preview the previous night an audience member walked out towards the end calling him “A fucking fraud”. He gives us the opportunity to leave and get a full refund if we don’t like the sound of the show, before leaving the stage for a couple of minutes. I noticed that two people did actually exit the room which surprised as I didn’t really think anyone would believe him when it came to the central concept.

Two minutes later Kitson re-enters and takes a box of cards out of a large cabinet, sits down at a desk and begins to read them. The descriptions of the items in his house are fairly amusing but it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t all that’s going to take place, as some of the cards have been put in the wrong way round and on the back they contain notes he made in the past for story ideas or possible stand up routines and he becomes distracted by them. This allows him to insert some very funny material in to the show as he tells jokes about the nature of storytelling, privilege, love, loneliness, companionship, how certain objects reflect the kind of person he was at a certain age and other various themes. This section of the show is enormously funny, it’s packed with hilarious moments and Kitson shines here, his philosophising being truly thought provoking stuff.

Unfortunately the show is just too long, it was supposed to run for 110 minutes but at this performance it went on for 150 and towards the end it begins to disappoint. At one point he begins to realise that the cards that have been placed back to front have been done so as a deliberate act of sabotage, and then later that he didn’t even write the notes himself. How he failed to not recognise that it wasn’t his own hand writing isn’t addressed, but worse is that when he discovers that 51 of the cards tell a complete story it takes a bloody age for him to put them in the right order. Perhaps it’s dramatically necessary, but it’s a shame he couldn’t create a way to speed up the process as it’s quite frankly a tad boring watching him do so. The end story is fairy interesting but not worth the wait either, and feels a little slight considering the long build up.

It’s a real shame because there’s material here that is absolutely superb, fascinating and funny and certain sentiments will stay with you for a long time afterwards. Given that it overran by thirty minutes I imagine Kitson will work on it further until it only lasts for the proposed time and that will certainly make it a stronger work, but the disappointing ending probably won’t change and this is an issue. It’s undoubtedly worth seeing, this is Daniel Kitson we’re talking about after all, but don’t go expecting his very best work.

4/5

notjosh

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 06:28:40 AM »
Interesting to read, thanks. I saw the Edinburgh version which was much looser - basically just stand up interspersed with a few lists of items, and some concluding thoughts on the value and memories we put in physical objects. That was a superb show, so I hope the greater structural rigour hasn't smothered the funny. Is he still doing his impression of a baby bird breaking out of an egg?

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 07:40:14 AM »
Hah. I wish I remembered that show a bit better.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2019, 08:33:30 AM »
Spoilers

If it’s any consolation I saw it twice in Edinburgh and whilst the theme was the the same, the structure and individuel stories were rather different. Both loosely about the things in his house as analogy for memories but across two 2 hour shows I reckon there was at least 3 hours of material (one show had the him-having-to-sack-his-builder as a big set piece finish, one briefly mentioned it)

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2019, 10:37:14 AM »
Interesting to read, thanks. I saw the Edinburgh version which was much looser - basically just stand up interspersed with a few lists of items, and some concluding thoughts on the value and memories we put in physical objects. That was a superb show, so I hope the greater structural rigour hasn't smothered the funny. Is he still doing his impression of a baby bird breaking out of an egg?

It definitely seems to have changed a fair bit as the last thirty minutes all build up to the new ending. And no, we didn't get the baby bird bit either.

Spoilers

If it’s any consolation I saw it twice in Edinburgh and whilst the theme was the the same, the structure and individuel stories were rather different. Both loosely about the things in his house as analogy for memories but across two 2 hour shows I reckon there was at least 3 hours of material (one show had the him-having-to-sack-his-builder as a big set piece finish, one briefly mentioned it)

The builder bit is mentioned but only briefly now, I wish I'd been able to see the earlier versions now as they sound better than what I saw.

CaledonianGonzo

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2019, 01:03:45 PM »
There was a lack of enthusiasm on here for the shows at the beginning of the Edinburgh run, but it was definitely working well by the last night

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2019, 01:11:06 PM »
The builder stuff made up the bulk of his 2 hour + shows when he did Hebden Bridge last year. That was as part of a work-in-progress so he must have really really cut it back for this.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2019, 02:12:56 PM »

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2019, 05:08:36 PM »
I somehow struggle to believe it's a two-star show. Kitson writes emails that have more laughs than some three star shows.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2019, 05:53:48 PM »
I somehow struggle to believe it's a two-star show. Kitson writes emails that have more laughs than some three star shows.

It's really not, it does have issues but a lot of it is incredibly funny and it's ridiculous to rate it so poorly just because the ending annoyed him.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2019, 06:07:33 PM »
Don't know how anyone can take Brian Logan reviews seriously, the most obvious bitter frustrated performer hack going

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2019, 06:42:16 PM »
Don't know how anyone can take Brian Logan reviews seriously, the most obvious bitter frustrated performer hack going

I don't tend to read The Guardian regularly so I wasn't aware of him, though The Times have given it 2 stars as well, but due to the paywall I can't see the whole review.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2019, 07:03:50 PM »
For a while I've got the feeling Kitson finds being a stand-up a bit boring, and so he does his stand-up within these ever-more-elaborate frameworks of frustrating and fairly boring bollocks to challenge himself. Because he can piss funny, insightful observations and commentary and deconstructions, but putting together a backwards looping structural thing that shapes the show to make some kind of existential poignant point is something that's more engaging to work out.

Verging on cod psychology, there, I know. But I would love to see him do a 70 minute funny ramble one day rather than a gruelling 2 hour epic where he's also facing away from the audience and live editing together a 16mm short film about divorce on a vintage Steenbeck.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2019, 07:08:58 PM »
Haven't seen the finished show yet (tickets for the 23rd) but I saw WIPs in various states last year and it felt a bit like the self indulgent work of someone who's felt they can do no wrong for too long. Even in half baked preview it went on forever, even by meandering Kitson WIP standards. I just assumed he'd get his shit together by the time he actually had to do the proper show, he usually does

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2019, 08:26:52 PM »
For a while I've got the feeling Kitson finds being a stand-up a bit boring, and so he does his stand-up within these ever-more-elaborate frameworks of frustrating and fairly boring bollocks to challenge himself. Because he can piss funny, insightful observations and commentary and deconstructions, but putting together a backwards looping structural thing that shapes the show to make some kind of existential poignant point is something that's more engaging to work out.

Verging on cod psychology, there, I know. But I would love to see him do a 70 minute funny ramble one day rather than a gruelling 2 hour epic where he's also facing away from the audience and live editing together a 16mm short film about divorce on a vintage Steenbeck.
I always think he should try putting on a weekly show where he talks about his week, pisses about with the audience and just improvises for an hour and a half. But he'd probably get bored pretty quickly.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2019, 08:41:45 PM »
He did a daily lunchtime version of that in Edinburgh 2 or 3 years back.  It maybe wasnt unmissable but it was a good way to start the day at a fiver a pop.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2019, 08:43:47 PM »
Don't know how anyone can take Brian Logan reviews seriously, the most obvious bitter frustrated performer hack going

I disagree wih him fairly regularly but he's been doing it a while now and generally knows his onions.  Come Fringe time he's one of maybe only 3 UK comedy critics worth keeping tabs on.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2019, 10:39:34 PM »
Don't know how anyone can take Brian Logan reviews seriously, the most obvious bitter frustrated performer hack going

I think he's cack as well.
He seems to get off on spoiling shows during the Fringe.

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2019, 11:12:22 PM »
I always think he should try putting on a weekly show where he talks about his week, pisses about with the audience and just improvises for an hour and a half. But he'd probably get bored pretty quickly.

I saw him do that once several years ago when he was just trying out stand up and improvising a bit and it was indeed great. Only charged £3 for about two hours worth of comedy too which was all a bit of a bargain. I've no problem with him creating a structure around the stand up though, I just wish the ending to this show hadn't been so drawn out.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2019, 12:17:27 AM »
I saw him do that once several years ago when he was just trying out stand up and improvising a bit and it was indeed great.

Yes, me too. By some margin the best thing I've seen him do (which isn't faint praise because I really enjoyed it).

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2019, 10:39:26 PM »
I always think he should try putting on a weekly show where he talks about his week, pisses about with the audience and just improvises for an hour and a half. But he'd probably get bored pretty quickly.

To a small extent, that's what he's been doing at Up The Creek on a Sunday night over the past six months or so. He's been a regular-ish compere down there for the Sunday night show, and it was almost always mostly improvised crowd work. ("What did you have for lunch?" beginning 40 minutes of riffing.) He occasionally threw in a legit gag -- noticeable because he repeated them quite often. But I agree that he's actually so much better just totally off the leash than during many of the scripted shows.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2019, 01:06:27 PM »
To a small extent, that's what he's been doing at Up The Creek on a Sunday night over the past six months or so. He's been a regular-ish compere down there for the Sunday night show, and it was almost always mostly improvised crowd work.

From my memories of late 2000s gigs Kitson crowd-work is the holy grail of comedy. Please tell me you're bootlegging this. It's beyond me that he doesn't know that it's the best thing he does - seemingly not from his focus on theatre shows.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2019, 01:14:55 PM »
I don't tend to read The Guardian regularly so I wasn't aware of him, though The Times have given it 2 stars as well, but due to the paywall I can't see the whole review.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/review-daniel-kitson-keep-at-battersea-arts-centre-sw11-fdm6fv2v9

Quote
★★☆☆☆
“Is this enjoyable?” asks Daniel Kitson humbly — or is it mock-humbly? It’s hard to know with Kitson, almost two hours into his latest attempt to reinvent comedy as we know it.

Had he asked, ooh, 75 minutes earlier, I’d have given a wowed: “Is it ever!” Kitson, 41, has been doing things entirely on his own terms since winning the Perrier award in 2002: no television, no radio, no publicity, yet remaining enough of a cult hero to sell out a month at a 500-seat venue such as this.

And for a while this new show, Keep, looks to be another self-styled Kitson classic. It’s pitched somewhere between his stand-up and his more Beckettian theatre shows. It has our host, sitting centre stage in his stripy tank top, vowing to plough through the cabinet full of index cards behind him. They list every object in his cluttered house. He will read out every one in turn. It will take him a long time. Sounds like an arthouse nightmare? He offers a full refund to anyone who would like to leave at this point. Nobody does.

Now you wouldn’t want to spend an evening hearing him list his ink cartridges, bird tables, DVDs and broken typewriters. Yet Kitson fans will know that the experimental format is a feint for something else. Soon things are going wrong. Soon this is playing like a subversion of itself.

While he keeps us guessing about just where he is going, this is terrific stuff. Kitson is a master at making his most planned ideas sound identical to his most off-the-cuff observations. As he heads towards the hour mark, though, as we realise that this is all just another exercise in self-examination, the magic fades. Sharp, funny thoughts about relationships and guilt, and being too firmly entrenched in his own brilliant mind, become horribly repetitive.

And, for all its flashes of observational brilliance, the final hour isn’t much more interesting than having him actually read out all the contents of his home. He ends up wibbling on and on about objects and exes and memories and selfishness, and proudly owns up to the house being a metaphor for his mind. But you would need to share his hoarding instincts to find this as resonant as it’s meant to be. Two hours, no interval, is simply far, far too much of this stuff.

So by the time he spends several wordless minutes organising his stray index cards, en route to a bittersweet twist of an ending that doesn’t click like it needs to, this has become torturous. I love Kitson’s ambition, I love his skill and his delivery, if not his self-regard. Even great talents need editors, though.
Box office: 020 7223 2223, to January 31

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2019, 01:57:51 PM »
It's a real shame how little released stuff of his is out there.  Would love to be able to watch recordings of his earlier shows it wasn't possible to see at the time.  I wonder what such meagre documentation will do for how he is regarded in the future, I don't suppose he cares.

notjosh

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2019, 02:01:28 PM »
To a small extent, that's what he's been doing at Up The Creek on a Sunday night over the past six months or so. He's been a regular-ish compere down there for the Sunday night show, and it was almost always mostly improvised crowd work.

Is this ever advertised? First I've heard of it, and it's only a 5-minute bus ride away.

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2019, 04:57:59 PM »
From my memories of late 2000s gigs Kitson crowd-work is the holy grail of comedy. Please tell me you're bootlegging this. It's beyond me that he doesn't know that it's the best thing he does - seemingly not from his focus on theatre shows.

Myself and another poster on here nearly died from laughing so hard at a bit of Kitson fucking about when he played The Stand Newcastle a few years ago. He managed to single someone out in the darkness who turned out to be a speech therapist which obviously set him off on a series of gags and one thing leading to another built to a crescendo where he was dancing around the stage singing the phrase “Head and neck cancer“. I’m not even exaggerating but I was struggling to breathe at one point. Funniest thing I’ve ever seen.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2019, 05:12:24 PM »
From my memories of late 2000s gigs Kitson crowd-work is the holy grail of comedy.

He was a last minute compare at the Greenwich Comedy thing last year (Tim Key was ill, so Ed Gamble was bumped to performing a set...I too was ill so didn't go) and my wife *my wife* said at one point, talking to someone in the front row he said "Why are you wearing sunglasses? You're blind? And in the front row? Selfish." Which brought the tent down. 

Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #27 on: January 15, 2019, 02:01:54 PM »
Is this ever advertised? First I've heard of it, and it's only a 5-minute bus ride away.

Kitson himself never advertises it but it is usually mentioned on the Up The Creek mailing list. He is not doing it for a while because of the BAC show but I am fairly sure he'll be back.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #28 on: January 15, 2019, 08:58:07 PM »
Kitson himself never advertises it but it is usually mentioned on the Up The Creek mailing list.

Thanks, subscribed.

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Re: Daniel Kitson 2019
« Reply #29 on: January 16, 2019, 02:40:40 PM »
3/5 in The Stage: https://www.thestage.co.uk/reviews/2019/daniel-kitson-keep-review-battersea-arts-centre-london/

"Structurally flawed and overlong but it contains moments of insight and beauty"

I'm inclined to believe the reviewers who seem to be forming something of a consensus at this point.

"Needs an editor" often seems to mean "thinks they're above being edited".