Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Daniel Kitson: New York Comedy Update

Daniel Kitson made an appearance at last night's Whiplash show (photos) in New York.  Sarah Silverman was an unannounced performer on the same bill.  Kitson, with mock-outrage, complained as he came on stage that in the past he had had to follow Louis CK on stage and here had to follow Silverman after she'd told rape jokes where she'd gotten three women to laugh (I had never seen her perform before and I loved the set).

As previously discussed I cannot really review comedy.  I find I have so little distance to judge things critically.  And I get distracted by the comedy itself!  I'm working on that.  But I thought it was worth a quick report/update for the blog and for anyone who cares on what might be in store for future shows--or not.  When I saw Kitson do some work-in-progress shows earlier this year there was a lot of material that did not make the cut into his Where Once Was Wonder show so it is hard to say where this might go.

Kitson seemed to be working on new material wholly unrelated to Where Once Was Wonder.*  He had his little moleskine notebook which he referred to from time to time.  I really enjoy watching him work.  Since even his notebook ramblings tend to be very strong material, I recommend seeing him when he is trying out new material.  It's instructive to see him working out how material feels.  There were a few moments he acknowledged the material was not where he wanted it...other points where he performed the shell of the idea and judged himself on whether that was enough.

I'm just geeky enough to enjoy the process of the comedy--maybe just as much as the comedy. 

He told some New York anecdotes which sounded like they were fresh observations from this week--"I was at the park in DUMBO eating a taco...See I'm just like you."

He did some crowd work.  He noticed a couple who were getting validation for their laughter from each other.  He complained he had no one in his life so he had to just have those conversations in his own head (he later acknowledged that the couple was lovely together).  He was talking about his significant weight loss in "stone" and there was some chattering in the audience which distracted him.  He investigated.  Turns out the audience members were trying to convert stone to pounds.  There was an awkward moment when a woman in front of me was texting.  He called her out on it and it turned out her grandmother was in the hospital and she was getting an update from her mother on her grandmother's condition.  Kitson was not going to be swayed by the old "sick grandmother" routine pressed further for the diagnosis (pneumonia in case you were wondering). 

I could see a few themes he was batting around in the material:  text/subtext, how we communicate, how we engage in the world and view it from our own perspective, how we are not adaptable and when surprisingly we are,whether we are knowable, how people see us and how that changes depending on who they are.  And no Kitson show is complete without his ever perky perspective on life ("Everything is pointless") and his observations about himself (noting when he looks at his own notebook and sees what he has written sometimes he thinks "I am a tool."). 

Looking forward to see his other performance this week at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival.  Tickets are selling quickly for Saturday's show...don't miss out!

*I really hope he plans on touring Where Once Was Wonder to New York.  But I think it would be ideal to see it tandem with the new theater show, As of 1.52pm GMT on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has No Title.  In case anyone was asking my opinion.  No one was.

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