Kevin Eldon, is Titting About
Chris Tapley 05/08/2010
Kevin Eldon has become a face rather synonymous with the very best of British comedy over the last two decades, due to his scene stealing performances in the likes of Brass Eye, Fist of Fun, Jam, Nighty Night and Big Train. So it comes as something of a surprise that this year sees Eldon's solo debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the spiritual home of comedy. This considered it's less of a surprise to sense the air of anticipation amongst those who have crammed into The Stand on a Thursday lunchtime to witness the very first show of his run, in fact even referred to as a preview before the proper run begins the following day.
Billed as nothing more than an hour of 'titting about' the show consists mainly of a selection of short character pieces which showcase the dexterity of Eldon's acting abilities, along with some musical asides. The show opens with a warm up slot from Eldon's most recognised solo creation, the pompous befuddled poet Paul Hamilton (immortalised in his Radio 4 series Poet's Tree). He delights with a series of poems on subjects such as road-kill, bad dates and Scottish robots before making way for the arrival of Eldon himself, whose immediate toying with the audiences expectations is likely one of the best opening jokes across the whole of the festival. After this he begins by discussing his decision to finally do a one man show and the various short lived ideas he had for it, he is a naturally engaging performer who manages to spin a delightful routine from what could have potentially been uninteresting and self involved. This segues neatly in to a few songs which display his talent as a word smith, with a song about bullying in the workplace in particular providing a brilliantly understated pay-off. Perhaps the best musical piece though comes from insurance salesman Glen Hughes delivering his sales pitch to a very unexpected accompaniment which is timed to perfection both lyrically and physically. His stereotypical Yorkshire man character also provides a number of belly laughs with a flurry of observations about life in the area which despite it's whimsical tone is imbued with a subtle pathos which, along with the fantastic delivery, makes it far more interesting than it may initially sound.
There is only really one section of the show which fails to raise many laughs, which is the appearance of a French punk-folk singer character which offers few proper jokes aside from an unintelligible Frenchman occasionally spouting snippets of Scottish dialect. It is delivered with as much enthusiasm though and it's difficult to begrudge it's inclusion due to Eldon's likeability. This was a preview though and I would certainly expect that this slight misstep will be ironed out over the course of his festival run. Overall this fifty minutes in the presence of one of the nations best comic actors is an absolute treat and we can only hope that the experience is positive enough for the man himself to come back with another show next year. Just in case he doesn't though, you'd be advised to add this to your list of festival must-sees.