There’s nothing better at a comedy gig than knowing the person on stage has done some local research. It gets the show off to a great start and lets the audience know for sure that their night is completely different to all of the others.
And so, when the audience assembled to see Russell Kane at the Bournemouth Pavilion on Thursday heard the introduction “ladies, gentlemen… and people from Boscombe,” they knew they were in for a good time.
Supported by genial up-and-comer Omar Hamdi, Kane is an absolute force of nature when he arrives on stage. Bristling with charm and controlled arrogance, he provides a frenetic hour of comedy that is often aimless, frequently hilarious and occasionally masterful.
The success of the tour is even more of a marvel considering the fact that Russell Kane is, this week, the busiest man in comedy. He’s right in the midst of a 90-date tour and he’s also the figurehead for the #SaveBBC3 campaign, appearing on just about every current affairs programme under the sun.
Like his award-winning show Smokescreens & Castles, Smallness is a tour with a thesis. Brits are obsessed with their own insignificance, says Kane, and it’s turning us into miserable neurotics. As with before, he takes his central idea and spins it out as a container for his anecdotes about sharing hot tubs with Nicole Scherzinger and looking an awful lot like Nick Grimshaw.
There’s no doubt that Russell Kane has reached the top of his game here. Whilst Smallness lacks the emotional polish of Smokescreens & Castles, it is a hugely accomplished show. The loose structure means that his occasional detours into surrealism or meandering thought nuggets do not disrupt the flow.
Kane may now be a fully paid-up member of the ‘Topman Comedy’ wave (with Jack Whitehall, Russell Howard, Josh Widdicombe, etc), but his council estate roots are never far from the surface. His star-studded stories are interspersed with nuggets of grubby nostalgia about how his contemporaries started “firing out kids” from the age of 16.
That’s not to say that the show is perfect. There are slower segments and some jokes sink under the weight of the Russell Kane persona, but he is never more than a few minutes away from a perfectly calibrated punchline or a gem of filthy wordplay.
Ending with a tour de force tale of violence on a boozy Thai holiday, Russell Kane cements himself as a man who has scaled the comedy mountain and reached the summit.
Smallness shows that this is a man who believes his own hype; and deserves it.