Kevin J: Council Estate of Mind

★★★
comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 10 Aug 2015

How have you not heard of Kevin J? The guy has played up and down the country. His previews consisted of six dates playing for Tinie Tempah at the rapper's glitzy Ibiza parties. He's played to packed houses in Nigeria, dammit. The man has gone global.

If you're still in the dark, chances are you're not familiar with the UK's urban comedy circuit – a circuit which sees mostly (but not exclusively) BAME performers playing to big audiences and not getting Radio 4 gigs. Mr J sits firmly within that bracket. Accordingly, his is a voice that many Fringe-goers may be unused to. Hailing from the Broadwater Farm Estate, North London (most famous for its riots in 1985), J speaks of growing up cheek by jowl alongside Asian and African families, and of the unique perspective that brings. "If anyone thinks I'm making this up, meet me afterwards," he advises, reading verbatim from his school yearbook. The only white guy in a very multi-racial school, the stories of his contemporaries' low aspirations and expectations of hurried matrimony ("if Mum gets her way") are authentic, novel – and a bit shocking.

Problem is, they're often more interesting than laugh-out-loud funny. Too often J relies on his rapid-fire delivery and a cutesy giggle to skirt around the need for a punchline. When he does see the need, they're often a bit ropey. He could, surely, be stretched beyond Nando's jokes? Kevin J. brings loads to the table. But he's forgotten to polish the silverware.