“Hey. What’s black and white and red all over? / A magpie that’s been hit by a Rover.
And that’s not funny, / It’s a bird all runny.”
The audience on the 2010 DVD recording of Kevin Eldon’s Edinburgh Fringe one-man show Kevin Eldon Is Titting About is somewhat unsettled by the appearance of renowned poet Paul Hamilton* who has come equipped with an arsenal full of poems with which to open the evening of clowning around. He relaxes them by promising not to be dry and full of despair, as is the expectation for poets. Instead, he reads some of his classic pieces like “Roadside Genocide” and “Hate Date” before welcoming to the stage Kevin Eldon and the first excerpt of his new theatrical play, When God Comes Calling.
The first half of the show, filmed in Cardiff in beautiful black and white, is Eldon’s initial ideas for what to make a one-man show about. Should he do Shakespeare? Should he do a magic trick? Should he do crowd work? No! He reprimands the audience for allowing comedians to make audience members verbally fill in a driver’s license application in lieu of entertaining them. He toys with the idea of doing observational comedy: “‘Oh, he’s got a toothbrush. I’ve got a toothbrush! I hope he says something about socks because I’ve got socks.’ That will fill them with wonder and delight…like a monkey feels wonder and delight when he sees his reflection in a puddle.” This is followed by the most outstanding impression of Michael McIntyre making observations about shoes, which are spoken to imply that it’s funny despite there being no actual jokes it in. This is, as the title suggests, Kevin Eldon titting about, but at the same time, we do see his true annoyance with the laziness that observational comedy brings. He later told The Independent, “I was being a bit naughty….observational comedy can be brilliant, but I would argue if it just becomes describing something you do, one ought to work a bit harder…”
After his origin story, Eldon moves on to musical comedy and character acting. If you’ve seen Eldon’s 2013 sketch show It’s Kevin, you’ll be interested to see the genesis of many of those sketches done on stage here, including the folk song about Brad the bully and Hitler reminiscing about the German Invasion in the voice of George Martin. “My girlfriend made me this,” he says, showing off the Hitler-mustache-on-a-stick. “You can see why I love her.”
Eldon then introduces a series of characters. First up is punk French folk singer Harald Dubois, who badgers the audience about their English language and complains, not for the first time, about the “upward inflection” that some people have, making it sound like every statement is a question. He makes an embarrassed audience member translate his French into English. Dubois sings in French, “Je cherche la femme.”
Other characters include Stanley, his obnoxiously northern rambler, and Glenn, the door-to-door salesman that raps about pensions. Again, you can see all of this in It’s Kevin. But there are also some things that didn’t make that show like the “My CDs Jump” song and more excerpts of When God Comes Calling, which leaves the show on a call-back punchline.
If you buy the DVD on gofasterstripe.com, you also get some outtakes, which include Harald’s guitar falling off the stand, causing Kevin to adlib to the film crew, asking them to edit it out, which trails off into, “Fuckin’ hard to improvise in French.” There’s also Eldon’s Golden Record submission, explaining music to aliens, among other special features.
*And by Paul Hamilton, of course, I mean Kevin Eldon with combed hair and a button-up.