CAUTIOUSLY going where few men have gone before, James Kirk is set to be the next breakout star of Scottish comedy.
Two years ago, the 24-year-old from Paisley triumphed in the prestigious So You Think You’re Funny? competition, previously won by the likes of Peter Kay, Dylan Moran, Lee Mack and Rhona Cameron. And now he’s seeking to make the giant leap to his own television series.
Following in the footsteps of Edinburgh Comedy Award winner Doctor Brown, stand-up and actor Kirk is the latest performer revealed as part of Channel 4’s “Blaps” scheme, in which unconventional acts present a series of five-minute films online, hoping to attract enough attention to warrant a transition to television. Spoof gangster rappers The Rubberbandits recently secured a broadcast pilot with Father Ted director Declan Lowney through the initiative.
Kirk, who appeared in a series of online shorts for STV as part of sketch trio How Do I Get Up There?, and has a recurring role in BBC Scotland’s Gary: Tank Commander as the barracks cook, presents an exaggerated version of himself in The Kronicles of Kirk, “based around the life of my socially stunted and awkward stand-up persona, who only tried comedy because his mum wanted him out of the house”. The title playfully references The Seinfeld Chronicles, the pilot episode of one of the greatest ever sitcoms.
Chubby and red-haired, Kirk invariably attracts laughter the moment he materialises on stage, with the exaggerated bravado of a sheltered soul in over his head, betrayed by his often mundane preoccupations, stiff body language and panicking eyes. Although he strives “to write as clean as possible”, there’s a dark side to his tales, with personal tragedies inadvertently blurted.
Family, his love life (“anybody he can find”) and the pursuit of his dream job as “acting captain of the Anchor Cubs”, a fictional Boys Brigade-style organisation, are The Kronicles’ principal focus, with stand-up Michael Redmond as his nemesis Captain Marshall and Maureen Carr playing his mother. Comedians Raymond Mearns, Jo Jo Sutherland, Jim Muir and Darren Connell also appear.
Prior to that, viewers can catch Kirk this Bonfire Night on BBC Two Scotland, as a community support officer dealing with stolen washing in the improvised cop show pastiche Scot Squad. “It was great, there were no scripted lines, we were just told a rough idea of the scene.”
Blessed with foresight, he’d have picked a Shatner-sidestepping stage name. Because “weirdly, I’m playing a sort of character but James Kirk is my real name. I had absolutely no idea where things were going when I started.”