Russell Kane took some time out from telling jokes to chat to us at the SPG about conducting first dates, his pug life and why he got into comedy…
Hi Russell! How’s everything going for you at the moment? Yeah, it’s banging. It’s banging like a tribal chief on a drum when you walk into an African village, that’s how banging it is.
So, first of all, can you tell us a bit about your new DVD? So what I noticed after doing five tours (in between my last DVD and this one) is that British people are strange. We only seem to have two gears. Either we’re introverted, wearing a top hat, apathetic, embarrassed, and unable to express ourselves, staying in and detoxing, drinking tap water or…we go mental. We don’t have an in-between gear.
Now I always thought that’s what all countries were like, but no, just take a trip to Europe and you’ll see people in cafe’s on a Wednesday afternoon sharing a bottle of wine, having a moderate amount of alcohol, but this is unknown to the Brits. We’d rather stay in all week, eating cereal, doing f**k all, then getting spanked off our t**s on a Friday night. People who go to festivals detox for the whole year, just so they can hoover every chemical on the planet and go for it for three days. Once I saw this insight, I realised it wasn’t just drugs and booze. We’re like it with food, box sets and our economy for f**k sake. We’re either Gordon Brown or David Cameron. You know, one minute we’re like Drake doing a champagne spray party with money raining in Vegas and the next minute, you’re counting beans in an icy attic. Sexually, we’re like it – particularly the women who go, ‘’Excuse me, I won’t be called names like that’’ and then go to Faliraki, catch chlamydia and then come home again. We just don’t have an in between gear, we’re f**king nutters. It started with the ration book in World War Two and we’re locked on it. So the whole show comes from that insight. It goes off on tangents and as with me there is loads of improv.
Sounds brilliant, if you had to sum it up in three words what would you say? High-energy hilarity.
Not only that, but you’re on a tour called ‘Right Man, Wrong Age’ soon, so what era would you have most liked to be alive in? So the tour starts in February, but I am quite happy with the era I’m living in at the moment, as I don’t feel ‘out of time’ as it were. I’d love to visit the 60’s and if it wasn’t for the really hairy f*****s, I’d love to go to a sex party, but the pubes ruin it. It’s free love at the price of unlimited pubic hair, no thanks. I’m happy where we are, but I know in 100 years time we’re going to look so stupid with our pathetic technology because you can see how brilliant it’s about to become. So, I wouldn’t mind seeing what comes after the Google car and the Google specs, you know, what’s the iPhone 20 gonna be like? Right man, Wrong Age is about (it’s not yet really written, so it might not be about this)… at the moment, unless you’re very lucky, you never quite feel the age you are. So, for example, when I was sixteen, I wanted to be nineteen/twenty and in the clubs all the time – I wanted to be older. When I was nineteen/twenty and coming towards the end of my degree, I felt like I was twenty-five and I knew my s**t, and I should’ve had money, I should’ve had a mortgage and I wanted a flat. I was always reaching ahead. You never quite fit the emotional or physical age that you actually are; people in their eighties, still feel like they are in their thirties; people who are touching forty, still want to live like they’re twenty-five. I just thought there was something quite funny in the fact that you never quite fit your skin, so it’s a story about growing up and being forced to face who you are. It’s just an excuse to do a banging stand up.
Moving aside from comedy, you’re currently living in Essex. What would you say, apart from the spray tans and glamour, is your favourite thing about the county? Ha! I’m not sure you are moving away from comedy by mentioning that county. But I have to say, I’m in the London borough of Redbridge and I can literally see the ‘Welcome to Essex’ sign if I go in my front garden and climb on my wall. I am just… just by one hundred meters, classed as living in London. It means I get the countryside but my IQ is unaffected. My favourite thing about round here is that you make such an effort to go out. Everyone’s wearing their nails and all that and it’s like a fashion show; there is something quite funny about it. The pugs, the cars and all that side of it is hilarious, but other than that, the best thing about living on this part of what is just Essex, is the countryside man. It’s so important when you do an intense job like mine, to feel like you’re in a country lodge, but at the same time, I haven’t got to get up at 6am if I need to get to a meeting in central London.
Sounds like bliss! As you just mentioned pugs, you have two, so did you dress them up for Halloween? Yeah, I have two pugs: Shakur (that’s my street name), and Colin who we dressed up as a spider ‘cos he’s a black pug, so we just put an extra four legs out of the side of him. We just had a baby three weeks ago as well, so we’re going to get her dressed up as a mermaid because a new born is basically like a slug, it doesn’t do anything. New born babies are so weird – they’re just like a bag of organs with a really gross soft bit on the top of their head.
Would you ever do a tour where you took both of your pugs out on stage? Oh, I have done before. Colin goes on stage sometimes before I do. The pugs normally go on about 19:55 before my support act, so I get two support acts – a dog, a human and then me. Colin does this little dance to Rihanna which is pretty cool.
It states on your website that you getting into comedy was ‘a curiosity and a dare’, but what actually made you want to get into the industry? Nothing at all, I’m not just saying that. I’d never been to see stand up, I didn’t know anything about it and I went to the one f**king uni in the land that didn’t even have a stand up night. Live at the Apollo only blew up in 2004 or something, so alternative comedy only went mainstream like ten or twelve years ago. Before that, it was still like Cannon and Ball and s**t like that on TV, which was the leftovers from old comedy. It was people like Bruce Forsyth and Michael Barrymore, even up until not so long ago, so I grew up and thought that’s what stand up was. It didn’t relate to me, it didn’t make me laugh and I didn’t know what the Edinburgh Festival was. My dad’s a builder and my mum’s a cleaner – it wasn’t part of our life. We didn’t all sit round on a Friday night and say ‘what cultural event shall we go to tonight’, it was ‘let’s get a takeaway and watch telly’. If it wasn’t for my love of Anthony Trollope and Charles Dickens, I would’ve never even got to uni. So, like I say, it didn’t really touch me at uni, but I decided I wanted to be a writer. I loved being creative and making up stories, so I ended up working at an advertising agency. I wanted to be a journalist but I couldn’t get a place anywhere, so I ended up writing copy instead, and I was making people laugh all the time in the office. Then, my mate Steven said, ‘‘you should do stand up, I dare you to try stand up.’’ I didn’t even really know what it was and I didn’t have any jokes, but he was like, ‘‘Na, just tell them the story you told us last night about what your dad did’’. So I literally Googled the first comedy club, went on a waiting list for two weeks and watched comedy for the first time within that two week period – and that was it. Whereas if you speak to someone like Russell Howard you’ll get, ‘‘I knew when I was four I wanted to do comedy. In my first scan in the womb I had a jester shaped head’’ and all this s**t, but I didn’t have any of that. I don’t think of myself as a comedian, I’m just someone who puts my actual personality on stage and happens to get paid for it.
On Facebook, you stated that you went for a date night and ended up at The Box. Is this a regular venue for you and your wife Lindsey? This was a few nights ago! It was unbelievable. Bear in mind we had a baby three weeks ago – we’ve got friends that went out on their first night together when the baby was two! And I said to Lindsey, “Look, we’ve got to start as we mean to go on. We’re lucky to have two sets of Grandparents, so we’re not paying someone random to come in. It’s her nan looking after her, we’re going out”. So Lindsey was barely moving from her caesarean scar and I said we’re going out! So we went out, drank a few cocktails, got tipsy and then Matt Richardson rocked up and he was like, ‘’Right, we’re all going to The Box.’’ We ended up at a table in The Box absolutely rat-arsed! I finished the night dancing on the seats at 2am whilst a live sex show went down on stage – that is a f**king first date night! Are we bad parents? I don’t know. Hahaha!
Haha! What advice would you give to someone asking a girl out and taking her on a first date? First dates. Although it’s tempting to take her to watch stand up, or to go and watch a movie, you can get something called a banter deficit problem. I’ve seen a lot of people on first dates take a girl to watch stand up, or to watch a movie that has big emotional experiences in it. Afterwards, your stuff feels small, in comparison to the stuff you’ve seen on stage, so you end up with what I call banter deficit. You go on this great first date and laugh your arse off and afterwards you just feel a bit normal and plain, and that kind of kills the vibe. So as old school as it is, the best first date you can do is drinks followed by dinner, because it’s got that flexibility to get messy – like both getting hammered at dinner and s******g on the first night. Or, it can be banter and civil, and you can see each other again – it’s flexible enough. If you do something a bit specialist for the first date, like dancing, theatre or comedy, you’re in the danger zone.
Haha! And would you opt for guyliner or no guyliner? No! No, no, no, no! What a wrong turn in my life that was. I started dating this girl who was a bit punky, and I thought ‘oh my God, that’s what I’m supposed to be, I’m supposed to be this f**ked up student, gothic leader’ and I just lost it for six months. Unfortunately, everyone just thinks I dress like that permanently now, but I’ve sorted myself right f**king out.