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Daniel Kitson: Something Other Than Everything review

| Comedy, Theatre | 24/07/2017


Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer

Kitson’s new show at Camden’s Roundhouse is brilliant, hilariously and thoughtfully addressing the paradox of modern life that we’re both always, and never, alone.

In his fascinating book, How I Escaped My Certain Fate, Stewart Lee lists Daniel Kitson as one of a handful of comedians “whose talents far outstripped mine, who produced work I never thought I’d be capable of in my life”.  So when Kitson drops a new show, the comedy world takes note – this time with entirely good reason.  Because Something Other Than Everything is extremely ambitious, consistently hilarious and utterly brilliant – a tough ask of a two-hour uninterrupted show, and frankly a dangerous one given its full-bladdered 9pm start time.

Much of Kitson’s work has focused on his ‘known recluse’ status – earned by shunning TV studios, agents and the media – and outsider views.  Here he repeats the misanthropic trick, using it as a springboard to dive into new waters, taking on subjects as diverse as racism, sheep farming, watersports and – in a rare political move – Brexit.

Not that Something Other Than Everything – a nod to his 2002 Perrier Award winning show, Something – is some scattergun circuit comedy routine.  Its delivery is masterful, fusing cerebral analysis with West Yorkshire mannerisms and Lee-esque ironic self-regard.  And the writing is equally first class, encapsulating the best of Kitson’s stand-up and theatrical talents, knitting a handful of strands into a compelling narrative.  Those strands – which Kitson picks at throughout, moving between them with the flick of a light as he darts counter-clockwise around the Roundhouse stage – weave the paradox of modern life, what Kitson calls the “multi-dicked dog of progress”: that we’re both always, and never, alone.

The initial focus on the former – the ‘something’ – luxuriates in the “fucking brilliant” fact that as sole house-dweller Kitson can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants, “Yes, please”.  This shifts his reputation from loner to semi-autistic oddball, helped by pairing his neat suit with bright yellow Asics, garnering enough intrigue and sympathy to be able to address the macro of ‘everything’ through the lens of a free-thinker.

The script is daring and provocative.  Much was made last week of Kitson’s use of “paki shop”, when admitting pride at eschewing the phrase in the 80s in favour of “Sikh shop” before reflecting that, applying today’s standards, he should have just called it “shop”.  Kitson won’t mind the fuss though: the phrase’s utility here is to draw attention to the steady and welcome progress of liberalism – a point made in more measured responses to Nosheen Aqbal’s piece.

More shocking is the show’s preoccupation with sex, given Kitson’s early efforts to suggest he’s some sort of sexless hermit.  He confounds these with the line that his house has a “fuck dungeon”, before repeatedly confessing he’s “constantly on the prowl for snatch”.  But whenever the narrative is in danger of rank misogyny, Kitson brings it back with his gentlemanly efforts to offer the spare seat at his restaurant table to a lone woman in a queue.

The sexual material is a smart move: it gives Kitson a reason to engage with society, and find interest in others’ views and feelings – empathy that spirals onto mainstream and marginalised groups in the second half of the show.  And, despite his distaste for much of what he sees, it leads him to an unavoidable conclusion that he does not live alone.

Daniel Kitson is performing ‘Something Other Than Everything’ from 9pm until Saturday 29th July at Camden’s Roundhouse.  For tickets, head here.  And to follow Kitson’s work, head over to his idiosyncratic official website.  

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