I recommend the work of Daniel Kitson to those who have twin senses of adventure and humour. Adventure so that you find his shows, and humour so that you enjoy them when you get there.
Kitson is the comedian’s comedian, the reason that Johnny Vegas took a hiatus from stand-up, a theatrical auteur, and the whimsical witty womble of stand-up. He is the superlative comedian. So why isn’t he selling out arenas the world over? Why doesn’t he have his own TV show? Why isn’t there a hilarious Kitson autobiography released just in time for Christmas and available in all good bookstores for just £11.99?
Because he doesn’t want to.
The only official record you’ll find of his decade and a half (give or take) of comedy supremacy, are the four audio recordings available for purchase on his website. Get those. They are excellent. Ideally, see him live on one of his reugularish tours, but be sure to get on his mailing list and book as soon as you can as tickets can be notoriously difficult to obtain.
Kitson doesn’t reinvent comedy. This isn’t some out-there art project that only dickheads like me claim to understand. No, what Kitson does is he perfects. His comedy is observational and story based, but done with such a shambolic precision that he might as well have reinvented it. Although his shows could be roughly divided into stand-up shows and story shows, this does them a disservice. Each show contains whatever elements Kitson decides to use, from the musical accompaniment of the fantastic Gavin Osborn, to an extensive collection of retro recording devices. He is always unique, but never artificially. All his shows tell charming stories with humour, melancholy and whimsy, whether they be about Kitson’s own life or various fictional characters.
But do I really recommend him? Yes, of course. But, I mean, do I really want everyone else to know about him? Part of the mystique of Daniel Kitson is his elusive nature, and the fact that your friends probably haven’t heard of him. Having grown up in a world of online everything with the world’s discography at my fingertips, there’s something very appealing about Kitson’s live-only ethos. Perhaps it’s the same impulse that makes hipsters buy vinyl, which would be appropriate as a lot of Kitson’s work celebrates obsolete recording technology, particularly cassette tapes. Thankfully there is a simple solution: most people can’t be bothered to attend or aren’t interested in any form of live entertainment, this won’t be seen by many people because Kitson does not exist online so there’s no chance of him retweeting it, so that probably narrows it down to an absolute maximum of one person who will seek Kitson out after reading is. As a result, that person is worthy to see Kitson. Welcome.