18/8/09, Traverse (Edinburgh Fringe)
A raves about Kitson and insisted we see him. D's colleagues rave about him. I'd never heard of him.
We couldn't get tickets for his sell-out stand-up gig, so made do with this instead. S called it "a shaggy dog story" and didn't much care for it. D said she fell asleep (something to do with the red wine and the lateness of the hour, perhaps?). The man next to me was twitching (not enough jokes?). A raved.
He's a shaggy dog of a man, a balding beardy in a baggy jumper (which he removed as it grew warmer, carefully untucking his shirt as he did so). He does a very nice line in highly articulate self-deprecation. It's very engaging. He's geeky, slightly pompous, erudite, loves words and uses all those things to considerable comic effect. I'd love to see him do straight stand-up. I assume he's doing Gregory Church because he's mastered stand-up and this is a new challenge, something to stop him getting bored.
I'm not sure it worked though it was never less than intriguing. The story, such as it was involved a cache of some 30,000 letters written over more than 20 years to and from a man called Gregory Church, evidently Kitson without the sense of humour. He started friendless and suicidal and ended with this vast collection of letters full of words like "badinage" and "bombast", exchanged with a collection of similar misfits and no-hopers... and with a woman called Isabelle, to whom he sent thousands of letters but who never once replied.
Kitson read verbatim extracts from a little black notebook, and suitably pompous and self-important they sounded, but also wry and occasionally witty (a bit like Kitson...)
K began by telling us that everything we were going to hear was made up, except for the first bit. He then described house-hunting in West Yorkshire where he'd been brought up (plausible) with an estate agent called Mike (still plausible) and finding a house with a loft where he'd been told there was no loft (again plausible) and being told by Mike, when confronted with the evidence of a loft hatch, that it was a fake loft (OK, no longer plausible). But just where did the "real" story end and the fictional narrative begin?
A work of post-modern fiction dressed up as late-night fringe comedy. Clever, that.
Alastair McGowan was in the audience: A had no idea who he was.