Comedy: The shadow cabaret

There's always been a whiff of the old-fashioned about Kit and the Widow, the languid cabaret singers. Maybe it's the grand piano, or the immaculate tailoring, or the strong reminder of Flanders and Swann

"It might be because of our public school/Cambridge University background," muses The Widow from his country pile in the vicinity of Luton Airport ("I live in the sonic fallout of EasyJet," he reveals). "Or maybe it's our accents, or our demeanour that give us this dyed-in-the-wool image. Anyway, because of our lack of talent we're not allowed to do anything else apart from this sad end-of-the-pier stuff. It is limiting."

To make matters worse, The Widow admits that "we did have Conservative associations. We may become the Shadow Cabaret. We had three Conservative MPs in our audience the other day. Obviously they do have more time on their hands now."

But, fear not, help is at hand. Kit and the Widow have now gone so far off the trendiness scale that they are now returning at the other end of it. The Widow contends that the out-of-date tag "is a thin veneer. We're as raunchy as the next guy. We've got drives as much as anyone you care to mention - except perhaps Gary Glitter.

"We've now got a youth-cult following," The Widow discloses, with barely- concealed amazement. "We hear that 12 students from Durham University know every one of our songs by heart. They think they're being way-out by doing something so old-fashioned. It's like when it was trendy a while ago to wear Oxford bags. We're the Oxford bags of LE."

There is certainly a sense in which Kit and the Widow's more sophisticated form of comic wordplay has superseded the in-your-face, shouty style. "People have realised that ranting comedy is not the only way," argues The Widow (real name Richard Sisson). "Insinuation might be just as powerful a tool. There is also the Trojan Horse element; you can't send up charity balls without having been to one in the first place."

With this in mind, they are picking the targets for their satirical songs in their new show with the utmost care. "It's hard to put your finger on the zeitgeist," The Widow maintains, "so we've turned our attention to the beauty of Cherie Booth's smile. That's a subject that the public has an appetite for. It's better even that mocking Delia Smith. We played the song to Cherie Booth the other day, and to her credit, she had the grace to smile all the way through it."

Kit and the Widow are appearing at the Vaudeville Theatre, the Strand, London (0171-826 9987), to 31 January

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