Interview: Russell Kane – ‘I was in the middle of spray-tanning myself in these tiny pants’
After an awkward encounter with a window cleaner, the Edinburgh Comedy Award winner, published author and RSC playwright decided to take a new look and fresh attitude out onto the road
Is Russell Kane finally growing up? A former key member of the ‘skinny-jeaned and skinnier hair’ breed of British comedians, the Essex boy is on his second marriage, has just become a father and is adopting a more adult look. While his vibrant ideas-based shows about class, nationality and family are likely to remain the bedrock of his humour, the new Kane has given himself a comedic wake-up call.
‘The older you get the funnier it is to explore ageing,’ says Kane as he discusses the motivation behind his 2016 touring show, Right Man, Wrong Age. ‘I would love to see someone in their 70s doing a show about finally growing up; the more experience you have behind you, the funnier it is to capitulate. I’m a comedian so I’m always looking for the moment that can make me look ridiculous in a way that’s compelling.’
The moment which launched this show came when he started to realise that the contents of his wardrobe needed to see the inside of a binbag. ‘I got my own house which no one in my family has been able to do. I was feeling all grown up and manly and in the middle of spray-tanning myself upstairs in these tiny pants when the doorbell went. I went downstairs in my dressing gown and this window cleaner was touting for work. He leant in and said “I’m really sorry to disturb you: is your mum or dad in at all?” Initially you might have thought that was a compliment, but it’s really not. So I thought, “OK, clothes in the bin!” And there was the show right there.’
During his career, Kane has pitched himself as a youthfully exuberant comedian as well as someone who can dabble in the high arts (he’s written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and published The Humorist, a darkly comic and highly literary debut novel) while enjoying a spot of TOWIE or Take Me Out on the side. This intellectual counter-balance has helped give his comedy a vital tension with his varying perspectives rarely leading him down obvious comedic paths.
‘I don’t have the snobbery of other comics where the comedy has to be serious and about something: a routine on Jeremy Corbyn is not superior to a routine about having a fart; no one has a right to put one subject on a pedestal and another one down. Comedy is the only artform that you can measure, using a decibel meter, to prove how well a gig went. And no one is going to tell me that Tim Vine is less of a genius than Bill Hicks.’
Russell Kane: Right Man, Wrong Age is on tour until Wednesday 20 July.