Keith Farnan: '[Kidocracy] makes it appear like I'm trying to start some revolution but I'm not that organised'

Keith Farnan: 'This show makes it appear like I'm trying to start some revolution but I'm not that organised'

The Irish stand-up discusses his new interactive show

With grown-ups having messed up the world for everyone, acclaimed Irish stand-up Keith Farnan has launched Kidocracy. In this interactive show, children are encouraged to rule an island where the emphasis is on fun and fairness. Here, he tells us about opportunity, enlightenment, democracy, and a druid-like man called Brehon

Would you say that Kidocracy, in terms of potential end result (enlightened children and parents) and risk (no-holds barred heckling) is your most ambitious show to date?
Kidocracy definitely feels like a long-term project, because a lot of my previous shows have referred to current affairs of the time, and therefore had a limited shelf life. In terms of enlightenment, the show has been great in demonstrating just how much kids already know about the politics of the time we're living in. I think that's really surprised a lot of the parents, especially of the younger children who attend the show.

The idea of trying to show how important and how much fun it can be to participate in building a country is central to the show, which means I'm trying to hear from every child in the audience at least once. So yes, that's definitely an ambitious part of the show, and I'm working on a book series based on the ideas within the show – I'm also hoping to get some sleep one day.

You've tackled big subjects in the past (death penalty, misogyny, privacy) but is this your most 'important' show so far?
Find me a way to say a kids show is 'important' without sounding pompous and I will lay my comedy sword at your feet and follow you into any battle. After writing all these stand-up shows, I began to realise that the people who would come see my comedy would pretty much agree with me as much beforehand as they would after a show.

Basically, by the time you're an adult you've pretty much been shaped and guided into a certain political belief by your experiences as a child and young adult. I realised from my own experience that so much of my politics was informed by my childhood and my own family and I think a show like this offers kids something else on top of those experiences.

Can you say a little about the creation and vibe of the show's host, Brehon?
Brehon Law was an ancient Irish code that helped to resolve disputes. There were some very progressive laws in there in terms of equality, which is where I got the name. The fact that Brehon is this ancient Irish character is a real help when talking to the audience as it allows him to be fun, charming and relatively neutral in talking about different aspects of politics. It also allowed me to get a costume that made me look like a druid; Getafix from Asterix & Obelix was one of my favourite characters growing up, so everyone wins.

Was it always your intention to do a 'kids show' at some point in your career or did it happen by accident?
I never intended to do a kids show, but strangely enough this ties into when I was studying law and training to be a solicitor. I remember really wishing that I'd had more exposure as a kid to how law and politics worked. I found it quite intimidating when I started studying, while a lot of the other students came from a legal / political family. I thought a basic unit of politics, law and economics in schools could widen the field of those interested in these vocations and take away some of the elitism.

In the UK especially, I've noticed there are certain schools where the supposed leaders of the next generation are to be cultivated. After doing some of the Comedy For Kids shows, I thought I could develop a fun kids show that introduced the ideas of leadership and democracy to those who may not necessarily attend those schools or come from families where there's an interest in politics. That makes it appear like I'm trying to start some revolution, but unfortunately I'm not that organised.

Kidocracy is at Chipping Norton Theatre, Sat 3 March; The Stand, Edinburgh, Sat 10 March; The Stand, Glasgow, Sun 11 March.


Interactive theatre show for children aged 6+, presented by Keith Farnan.