A RECURRING problem with arena-playing stand-ups, and the storytelling variety in particular, is that their efforts at relatable material can ring hollow – multi-millionaire celebrities opining about what (supposedly) just happened to them on the bus.
Kevin Bridges: A Whole Different Story SECC Hydro, Glasgow
Still only 28, Kevin Bridges has largely sidestepped this charade by casting back to his Clydebank childhood, as he does here again to strong effect. But as with one of his first great inspirations, Frank Skinner, he’s also canny enough to understand the appeal of an irreverent, working-class boy made good, reporting back on the ridiculousness of his more affluent, recently acquired lifestyle with precisely the same cynical and gently mocking appreciation for detail that made his name.
With a neat twist on the convention of middle-aged comics’ fear of feral kids in hoodies, Bridges instead reports himself intellectually brow-beaten by the offspring of his middle-class neighbours, who themselves send him into feverish angst with their smug, pseud-ish naming of their pet dogs.
While retaining his everyman appeal – a pre-show video follows him as he walks to the gig from George Square – performing 16 nights in the largest room his hometown has to offer also affords him significant authority.
Slimmed down to a sharply-suited and booted 14 stone, he certainly looks the business, even if his weight-loss regime has fallen foul of faddish pretentiousness and he can only respond to his personal trainer with barefaced lies and down-to-earth aggression at the man’s modish shifting of the dietary goalposts.
Playfully responding to crowd shout-outs with the same engagement and good grace he’d apply to a club set, while never relinquishing control, he also consolidates his own mythology, delivering a follow-up to his much-loved, teenage “Empty” routine, in which his recently married, child-rearing friends go crazy on a rare night of house partying.
Bracingly for a comic in his rarefied strata, there are observations with political edge too. Though not the most cutting satire, there’s still blunt effectiveness in his questioning of the UK government’s austerity measures and attacks on the poor and disabled, his sardonic delivery and capacity to select just the right visual image surpassing mere Tory-bashing.
Ahead of the obligatory encore, he closes, almost inevitably, with a routine of youthful reminisce, about the supposedly weird habits of a friend’s family on a night he slept over.
Carefully building the scene while hilariously exaggerating his perturbed reactions, he skilfully elicits laughs from the disparity.
Seen on 21.09.15
• Until 5 October