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Russell Kane: Human Dressage
Published on Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Russell Kane is a stand-up on the way to stardom. His recent TV appearances and credentials on the circuit are certainly paying off, with two shows in this year's Fringe and fantastic audiences for both. The fact that he is in two shows (both on for the full run) show his main comedy strength: he is ludicrously, ridiculously energetic. Before even beginning to critique this show, I definitely credit him with a lot of kudos for this mad Festival experience he has created for himself.

His stand-up has not suffered in the slightest from this huge workload. Kane is, first and foremost, an energetic young man, bounding onto stage and talking a mile a minute for a full set, and he still does this with aplomb. Bouncing from topic to topic, from human dressage (his theory on different cultures imposing different 'dressages' on us) to being caught masturbating, he delivers a pleasant mixture of clever comment and some downright filthy material - a cheeky combo for the middle-class sprogs that made up nine-tenths of the audience. This is clearly no accident; Kane knows where his appeal lies, and plays shamelessly to it.

This is, unfortunately, where the humour fell down a little for me. Kane seemed to ready to dive into the dirty jokes, too ready to preach about what humans do - and it is all a little too carefully constructed for my liking, a little to easy to switch from filthy Essex boy to educated frippery. Kane plays the educated chav and the arty thespian well, but the two don't connect as well as you'd think. The show could do with a little streamlining, and the links could have a better arc.

That being said, Kane is still riotously funny. His plastic face, ability to talk in varying tones, and general bounciness make him a joy to watch. But his wit helps him avoid the Lee Evans pitfall: funny to look at, but not funny to listen to. He is an exceptional performer, and worth watching in any production he may be involved with this Fringe. This may not be his best set, but it is certainly the great beginning of one - and with a little tweaking, could take the country by storm.

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