Heading into Clickimin on Thursday night, the first thing to catch the eye of ticket-holders was a prominently placed notice: “No sustained or abusive heckling”, writes Alex Garrick-Wright.
The implication being that there is some kind of line in the sand; heckling is fine, but once it is sustained beyond a certain point, or becomes too abusive, then it won’t be tolerated?
Fair enough; Kevin Bridges has played rougher venues than Lerwick before, and if anyone is going to know the line between abusive disruption and good-natured banter, it’ll be him.
Walking into the venue, it seemed a little bit up-front. In retrospect, it was there for good reason.
The surprise (read: ‘not advertised on the promotional material’) opening act was Dougie Dunlop, a Scottish comedian who managed to avoid the standard clichés most comedians make on their first trip to the isles (refreshingly, no jokes about the lack of trees or the ponies to be had here).
A very talented comic, Dougie warmed the audience to a nice simmer, doing his best to engage and get the ball rolling.
In such a large venue, the crowd were not quite as forthcoming as they would be in a smaller comedy club, and apart from satisfyingly turning the tables on a heckler, he did not get much by way of interaction.
Dougie was a great addition to the bill, although it was a shame that his appearance had not been given much fanfare or hype.
People do tend to forget any name that wasn’t printed on the ticket, so lest he gets overlooked, here it is again: Dougie Dunlop. He was great. Keep an eye out for him.
After a brief interval (and stampede to the bar) it was time for the Big Man himself.
Returning to ‘the most prestigious of gym halls’, Kevin had the crowd bent-double with laughter in the first couple of minutes.
Clydebank’s most famous son (apart from the one Scottish guy in Game of Thrones and Wet Wet Wet), Kevin’s comedy can only be described as ‘quality patter’, in the best Glesga style.
Incredibly natural on stage, Kevin was clearly having as much fun as the audience, delivering fast-paced, dirty wee jokes and stories as easily as if he was down his local having a laugh with some pals.
Starting with ‘accidentally rolling fajitas at the dinner table like joints’, he ranged all over the place, to sleepovers, to Wikipedia, to the diet tips that let him lose four stone in 10 years and solving the Greek Debt Crisis. It was eye-wateringly brilliant.
Remember that line in the sand, dividing ‘heckling’ from ‘disruption’? It turns out that Kevin is the master of the line.
Completely unflappable, heckles were deflected with perfect precision; not once was he lost for words, or unable to fire back with a line that made the loud-mouth hang their head in shame.
Heckling Kevin Bridges is like shooting a tank with a water pistol. A really, really funny tank.
The only tarnish on the otherwise gold-standard evening was the two men in the front row who managed to cross that line by constantly talking.
Kevin’s gentle ribbing and teasing gave way to sterner rebukes as it became apparent that they were moving into ‘sustained heckling’ territory, and eventually a request to leave.
As the stewards ushered them out the door (to thunderous applause), Kevin felt he had to apologise for the ‘steroided, Tennents-fuelled gibberish’ that may have caused any loss of enjoyment for the audience.
For a short time after that, it seemed like Kevin’s blood was understandably boiled, and he didn’t relax back into a natural groove for a bit, occasionally lamenting that he was losing the audience’s enthusiasm (he wasn’t, not at all).
He soon recovered his footing and was back at the top of the game- where he rightfully belongs. Kevin Bridges ended the show as he began- making everyone laugh until it hurt.
Stepping back out for an encore and a little audience banter, he was asked if he would be return: “Of course I’ll come back. I’ll come back if youse all do.”
Nae danger, Kevin. We’ll be there.
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