North East England’s Lee Kyle is the man behind the Working Class Fringe brochure, the crowd-funded promo booklet for those from unprivileged backgrounds, which you’ll have been handed if you’ve been to any of the shows therein. And in case the realities of being a working class comic on the Fringe weren’t stark enough, Kyle’s living in a tent and playing a karaoke booth at 10.20 in the morning. Glamorous it isn’t.
It’s not the ideal recipe for comedy, either, but Kyle pulls it out of the bag. This is a proper Fringe hour, not the extended club set of many early day Fringe shows. And lest you think from his prominence with the Working Class Fringe that Kyle’s comedy is going to be flat-cap-and-whippet stuff, you’d be surprised. A ferret makes an appearance, but that’s another story…
His opening is weak, deliberately so he says, but that may just be covering for lack of a proper opener. We get some noodling chat about S Club 7 while a video plays in the background.
It’s not long before we’re into the good stuff though, and Kyle shows some original and inspired thinking. He disassembles and reassembles the kids’ ABC song, taking out all the letters he doesn’t think should be there and revising those that remain. There’s then another playful, language-based section where he investigates our use of double words via a brief story which sees him “drinking woo-woo with LuLu” among other things. It’s clever when it’s being told, and is rounded off with an ideal punchline – a smart piece of comedy.
The title, Kicking Potatoes Into The Sea, isn’t just whimsy. Kyle did do that, while in a particularly bad place mentally, and has the photos to prove it. This allows him to paint a picture of his family life – his autistic wife and son are bonded with him as part of a mutually supportive family unit. Kyle’s no stranger to the vicissitudes of the mind, something he shares by reference to his “rich internal life”. As a boy, he once imagined a dead pigeon to be revivable, but more significantly, he was, in his head, the lead singer of a failing indie band, The Internet, for many years, and for the past 22 years has been managing the imaginary national football team of an independent North East of England. This is wholly believable, and a fascinating insight into his mind, but it’s also quite niche. Unless you can identify, and perhaps even if you can, the humour dries up a little.
It dries up further with talk of his late mother. They weren’t especially close, so he apparently has no problem trying to find comedy in it, including talk of how he smashed it doing the eulogy at her funeral. He leaves some things quite stark though, and even when he brings in the punchlines to gags promised at the beginning, it doesn’t alleviate matters.
But he’s careful not to leave us on a downer, and a bag of potatoes is brought out for him to do some kicking as a light-hearted finale. It’s a fitting, though not especially sophisticated, ending to what has in some ways been a sophisticated wee show. He’s thrown different styles of humour into the mix, and allowed us, via some stereotype-challenging stories, into the ups and downs of his immediate and extended family.