While it would be an exaggeration to describe this afternoon's incredibly subdued performance of KMT as a failure, neither is it anything approaching a success. Athena Kugblenu is an intelligent, purposeful comedian who takes her inability to set the room alight in good stead. Smiling comfortably even as her material is met with silence, she is evidently less interested in pandering to our tastes and sensibilities than in being honest and true to herself. This isn't a confrontational hour of standup, but one which is warm, passionate and, unfortunately, flat.
The comedian addresses issues as pertinent as diminishing public services, British imperialism and white privilege, making points with which the largely left wing Fringe audience already seems to agree. In the context of a mixed bill circuit gig, these routines could doubtless seem brave, challenging and insightful. Here, Kugblenu is preaching to the largely unimpressed choir, her words reduced to little more than a soothing balm.
There's a lot of potential on display here, but it the performer has to rethink her priorities if she's to harness it effectively. KMT—which stands for Kiss My Teeth, a Jamaican expression—is too literal an hour of progressive thought. Were Kugblenu to experiment more with form, her material could really start to soar, or at least surprise us.