Daniel Kitson: 66a Church Road

December 20, 2009 in Entertainment, Shows by pacejmiller

I had never heard of Daniel Kitson before, but was recommended to see his show 66a Church Road: A Lament, Made of Memories and Kept in Suitcases by a friend of a friend.

Kitson is a 32-year-old, award winning English comedian who has been called a ‘genius’ on many occasions.  However, 66a Church Road is not your typical stand-up routine.  It’s really a 90-minute soliloquy; a one-man story about Kitson’s relationship with his flat in London’s Crystal Palace over a 6-year period.  There’s an occasional video-recorded voice over during breaks, but for the most part it is just Kitson sitting on stage surrounded by stacks of suitcases (many of which contain scale models of the apartment).

The reviews of the show have been overwhelmingly positive.  The Times says: “It is poetry shot through with laughter and pathos, a heartfelt reflection on what we mean by home….as good as anything Kitson has done.” The Sydney Morning Herald says: “You go home with a distinct feeling of absolute moral superiority.”

My own personal verdict?  The show sucked.  Really sucked.  Hear me out.

First and foremost, 66a Church Road is not funny.  For 90 minutes, the show probably elicited half a dozen smiles and a couple of forced chuckles.  Not a single laugh.

Yes, Kitson really knows how to talk (albeit very quickly).  He is supremely eloquent.  His delivery is poetic.  His musings are well structured and occasionally heartfelt.  But it’s totally misleading to call it a ‘comedy’ show.  66a Church Street is really a ‘story’ show laced with infrequent, barely amusing lines.

Maybe it’s just me, or perhaps I was wrong to expect a comedic genius to deliver…well, a funny show.  The crowd was split into two camps.  There were a few randoms scattered in the audience that literally laughed at anything Kitson said.  Especially the guy sitting next me.  Seriously.  Every single thing.  Not even jokes –  just normal, conversational stuff.  It was surreal.

Apart from the crazies, everyone else was on the verge of death.  The guy next to my wife covered his face in his hands at least five times and yawned uncontrollably every minute or so.  If we weren’t sitting right in the middle of the row, we would have left about 30 minutes in when we realised it wasn’t going to get any better.  Some luckier people sitting on the sides actually did leave.

So that’s it.  Fans of Kitson (like the guy that sat next to me) will undoubtedly lap it up.  But for everyone else, either avoid or don’t expect anything funny.

PS: I actually did laugh out loud twice, but it wasn’t because of the show.  The first was when my wife leaned over and whispered ‘I’m so sleepy’, and the second was right after the show, when she said ‘That was so boring I thought I was going to die’.