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May 23, 2011 | by  | in Theatre |
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Raybon Kan

You can tell someone the funniest joke in the world, but if they sense that it was a chore for you to do so they’re not going to enjoy it. They’re going to wonder why you bothered. Given the opportunity, this is the pearl I’d have given Raybon Kan in the back room of the Garden Club as he drank himself into a depressed stupor, trying to ferment the memories of the show just been into an unrecognisable mush (that’s what I assume he was doing, because I felt like doing the same). But I doubt he’d have let me in because, apparently, Raybon Kan finds his audiences tiresome and boring.

As he sauntered onstage, placing a pint of beer on the table and leaning on the microphone stand, Kan got his only applause for the next hour and a quarter. After a brief welcome he launched into a tirade against the buses on Manners Street—“They couldn’t make it easier to kill people if they tried”, et cetera. After this elicited the deadest response from an audience I have experienced from an opening routine, Kan stated he was trying to feel us out and warm us up, and that he was trying things on because it was opening night and most of the audience were invited. (Whether he was actually testing new material I couldn’t quite figure out.) I can’t think why he confessed this (I doubt he was going for Brechtian defamiliarisation) but it wasn’t charming or personable. It was tactless. And alienating the paying members of the audience is ill-advised.

After an awkwardly subdued half hour of being ‘felt out’, we were provided with the billed routine. I know this because he said so, apologetically. Kan used the rhetoric of a disgruntled blogger. He would set up a topic (the immaculate conception, for example) and develop it with invariably scathing, cynical remarks. He would then move on to the next topic. I stopped waiting for Kan to reincorporate and synthesise old ideas in a clever and comedic way when I realised that, despite the lack of denouement, punchlines, or pay-offs of any kind, I was supposed to have found them funny already.

Disconcertingly, Kan punctuated his entire routine with weary sighs and sarcastic comments about the audience’s level of engagement. I felt like putting my hand up: “I’m sorry, are you suggesting this is our fault?” Really, the immaculate conception? His material, too, would have been perfectly at home in the more banal regions of the blogosphere. If Kan thought the audience was bored, it was because they had every reason to be.

Kan’s humour barely affected me, but his morbid cynicism did: half way through I decided to tally my laughs. The result: two chuckles, with an interval of about 35 minutes. Raybon Kan left the stage with the unenthused and dismissive farewell of a loser. I would have felt sorry for him, had I thought he cared.

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  1. Latricia says:

    You have more uefsul info than the British had colonies pre-WWII.

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