I can’t recall in my Fringe going experience ever going to a comedy show before 11 in the morning. I can’t say if Lee Kyle was giving slim pickings for a room and time slot but credit to him for soldiering on. I have a bit of love for things potato themed and the north east, Baked Potatoes by legendary punk band Leatherface is one of my all time favourite songs, a song as raw as it is beautiful. So the omens felt good.
Too my surprise, he’s managed to fairly fill the karaoke booth in City Cafe with around twenty souls giving this ungodly Fringe hour. The amiable North Easterner starts with some S Club 7 to warm up the room, disclosing an uncertainty how to really start a show, further demonstrating this upon disclosing his home-life and how his wife and son are both on the autism spectrum, exemplifying his wife’s misunderstandings are equal parts blunt and endearing. Whilst the room seem to have warmed to Lee, it’s not the best start. Quite frankly some skits and segments can go into the sea and around the halfway mark I am filled with some doubt that the choppy waters will remain so throughout. Whilst anecdotal, confessional, I was hoping for some surrealism, flights of fancy that a title Kicking Potatoes In The Sea, would suggest. The story behind the title a trip Lee took with his son to get out of the house to deal with depression and boredom. It’s done with grace to the point he’s not trying to enforce empathy, but it all feels meandering. Particularly reconstructing the alphabet so it could be shortened can quite bluntly be kicked into the sea.
But when we’re giving some true insight into Lee’s imaginarium, his fantastical other lives he’s created of pipe dreams yet the scenarios never pose the prospect of glory and the level of detail he will go to to creating this world, whether it is being in a one hit wonder Britpop band or unfancied football team with principles Athletico Bilbao would nod in approval, really kick the show into momentum and we’re left with a second half that feels at total odds with the beginning. From here on in it’s a laugh out loud fest that zips that fills the room with real sense of glee. He’s delicate when talking about the death of his mother, turning tragedy as comedy that establishes Lee has real talent. The second half does reveal a lot of payoff from the first that are really a series of setups, but I feel a lot of work needs to be done to get the show on a level pegging. By the end, Lee will certainly have warmed up your cockles for the day and like the omen, Kicking Potatoes Into The Sea is a bit raw, but it’s full of heart.