Russell Kane - The Humorist (3 stars)

Russell Kane - The Humorist

A gory black comedy from the restless comic

(Simon & Schuster)

Anyone familiar with Russell Kane’s stand-up comedy won’t be surprised with his debut dip into literary fiction. The winner of the 2010 Edinburgh Comedy Award might be a restless spirit on stage, but his number one priority is the weight and heft of his lyrical content. And so metaphor, simile and imagery are paramount, more often than not providing a winning line here and delicately carved sentence there. In terms of story, though, The Humorist feels like an elongated short story, the kind of surreal intellectual sparring Woody Allen perfected in his 1970s prose collections.

Benjamin White is a feared comedy critic who understands the essence of humour better than anyone who has ever lived, but was born with the inability to smile or laugh. But when he discovers a formula that might be able to literally ‘kill an audience’, will he use it for good or evil?

While Kane shoots his bolt early with a baroque, gory opening, he entertainingly leads us through a winding tale that takes us from a corpse-filled Comedy Store to an African enclave and back.

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