Russell Kane: Manscaping, Hammersmith Apollo, London (4/5)


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It was typical of the self-aware, self-referential and self-deprecating “third Russell of comedy” to acknowledge that the X Factor final had taken a slither out of his audience share tonight.

Kane's offstage announcement, thanking those of us who came out despite TV's infamous talent showcase, anticipated any curiosity as to why the award-winning comedian had fallen a little short of a full house.

Flagging up a possible perceived weakness as a defence mechanism is classic Kane (“I look like aborted triplet of Jedward” he says of his two-tone quiff and skinny jeans) and he's perpetually in motion to distance himself from the class demons of his upbringing, complaining that he can resent the trappings of success and protesting, perhaps a little too much that: “I get violent if people are too nice.”

Cramming “two hours into an hour” this eloquent Essex new man-slash-bard beats out a breathless Pavlovian rhythm that seems to leave no choice but to laugh with, though I hear others remark after the show that “he's too full on.” Certainly, in his haste tonight he abandons a more defined theme, compared to even the prototype show in Edinburgh, and the 'Manscaping' landscape is less coloured by the various states of masculinity he wants to illustrate.

Perhaps it was a defensive reaction to the perceived mainstream tastes of tonight's audience that had Kane extending his riff on why Cheryl Cole fared so badly in the US and telling knockabout tales of time spent working in Australia. Ultimately there was less room for the energetic performer to fully describe the post-marriage heartbreak that had afflicted his masculinity and the need he felt to slip into a “kitchen floor re-set”, a pose familiar to anyone who has melted under the weight of a relationship gone wrong, man or woman. “Every single person in this room has slid down a fridge at some point” is how he puts it.

Though the 31 year old was skittish in his structure his whirlwind routines of a neurotic pitch, perfect for the 'Family Guy' generation ("Self-heckle. Postmodern. Relax" could end up his catchphrase), were still seductive in their marriage of momentum and mirth. “I've got status – touch my penis!” went his dispatching of the Rn'B music genre, meanwhile “I'm a vampire in my spare time” ran an earlier gag aimed at another extreme of youth culture. A scattergun that hit his targets.