Knocknaheeny native Chris Kent has been steadily rising in the comedy world in both Ireland and the UK over the last few years, garnering praise from comedians as varied as Tommy Tiernan, James Acaster, and Foil, Arms and Hog as well as appearing on many radio and television shows such as Russell Howard’s Stand Up Central for Comedy Central, while his last show Looking Up was put up on the RTÉ Player.
Following up on that is his latest stand up show Christy Doesn’t Live Here He will performing two nights in his hometown, fresh from his first time headlining Vicar Street.
These are dates rescheduled from pre-Covid times, so Chris has been sitting on the show for quite a while.
“This is my seventh full-length show, but it feels like seventh and a half, as it’s been so long in the making,” he says.
“It’s another storytelling show. I didn’t revisit it at all until I had to bring it out again. Then it was a case of listening to a recording and adapting as I went along. I’m loving doing it now. It’s changed a bit, and still feels new to me.”
When describing the show, Chris doesn’t think it hangs on just one subject.
“There isn’t really an overall theme,” he says.
“It’s everything from raising kids, my childhood, adapting to the day job again on account of the pandemic, life, death, and the afterlife … and a feud about a clothes horse!”
Chris’ comedy is known for being witty and warm, but also so natural in his observations and delivery, but as the old saying goes “it takes a lot of work to make things look easy”.
Chris reckons it took him time to get to this point
“It didn’t start that way at all,” he says.
“I think I started doing what I thought others might find funny. It took me a few years at least to start doing what I found funny. My style evolved when I started gigging outside Cork and was worried no one would understand me, so I slowed down. I tried hiding punchlines then, which led to it being more conversational, I would say.
“I just love making people laugh. It is an amazing feeling. Taking them on a journey with a story and sharing an hour or so with people where they can switch off and just laugh. I also enjoy turning moments of turmoil or struggle into comedy, where people can relate and maybe not take life so seriously.”
These upcoming shows in The Everyman are something Chris will relish.
There is definitely something more special about the shows in Cork, especially in The Everyman
“I’m massively excited about bringing the show to Cork,” he says. “There is definitely something more special about the shows, especially in The Everyman. It’s a beautiful theatre space and the atmosphere is something rarely matched.
“It’s a dream come true. I remember the times I’d be on the AirCoach out of Cork and heading for Dublin. Every time I’d pass The Everyman, I’d daydream about doing my own show there, and the same with Vicar Street. It feels joyful. Like all the work I put into the shows is worth it. The pressure is more on wondering if people will turn up and I’m so grateful that they have. I’m extremely excited that we added a second Everyman date.”
While many people would assume a comedian who couldn’t perform much for two years would have been trying jokes in WhatsApp groups and gatherings with every opportunity, Chris has a different outlook.
“I didn’t do much of either, to be honest. I have never been very prolific on WhatsApp. I prefer to sit back and enjoy my friends making me laugh. It was really refreshing not to have to think of material during lockdown. Anytime I make my friends and family laugh is always in the moment, and might inspire future material, but if I ever specifically tried material on them it would die and never make its way down a microphone!”
Getting the chance to jot down those funny ideas isn’t as easy as it used to be, but Chris manages to make it work.
“As a family man, I absolutely have to be more structured. I don’t get all day to wander around and write. I need to find little windows mainly when the kids are asleep or I’m away. The most important thing is the ideas... as long as I keep having them and stopping to take note of them!”
Another common assumption is comedians can be very career-driven and want to get more of the spotlight, but Chris reckons his main inspiration is to make each show better than the last.
“What drives me is seeing if I can write a better show every year and to see if I can grow my tours. Time to start dreaming of more venues, I think… especially in Sligo! I didn’t actually know a lot about standup before I started. I love it now, but the people that inspired me were on the open mic scene. They were just regular people doing standup. If it wasn’t for them, I never would have tried standup.”
While his current tour will be staying on the road for the next few months, Chris is also making plans for the future.
“I’d love to do the Edinburgh festival, but I don’t think it’ll happen this year. I’ll be getting a new show together for next year as soon as this tour finishes. Also I am looking forward to the festivals coming back and getting back into a few clubs in the UK.”
- Chris Kent plays The Everyman Theatre on Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23. Tickets at www.everymancork.com or at 021 450 1673.