I have a certain fondness for everything that has to do with potatoes in the Northeast, from baked potatoes to the legendary punk band Leatherface to one of my favourite songs of all time, a song so raw it’s beautiful. I can’t remember a fringe group I’ve ever gone to, but I have the experience of going to a comedy show at 11 in the morning. I am not saying that Lee Kyle should be given a narrow pick-up room or a window of opportunity, but he deserves credit for becoming a soldier.
That’s an omen that I’m actually feeling pretty good about at the moment. ‘Yes, that’s a good omen.
To my surprise, he managed to fill a karaoke booth in the City Cafe with twenty souls, given the ungodly edges of the hour.
The room seemed to be warming up for the lovable Northeastern, but it wasn’t a good start. He started his club at 7am, warmed up the room by revealing some of the insecurities at the start of the show, by revealing his private life with his wife and son, who are on the autism spectrum, and illustrating their misunderstandings in an equally frank and endearing way. The sketch segment about going to sea halfway through was full of doubt, and the water remained choppy.
There’s a story called “A Journey Lee Takes to His Sons to Deal with Depression and Boredom.”. It happens with grace, to the point where Lee doesn’t even try to impose empathy, but it feels meandering. There is no reconstruction of the alphabet, it is abbreviated to “kicking potatoes into the sea.”. There is anecdotal confessional hope, surrealism and high flying, as the title “Throwing Potatoes into the Sea” suggests.
The show makes you laugh and fills the room with genuine glee. We get a true insight into Lee’s imaginarium, his fantastic otherness, his fantasy scenarios that never offer the prospect of fame, and the attention to detail with which he creates a world – be it a one-hit wonder, a Britpop band, an unimaginative football team, or the principle of Athletico Bilbao – that nods approvingly to open the show is Momentum, and we have a second half that feels like a total curiosity from the start. His tender talk about his mother’s death, which turns tragedy into comedy, proves Lee’s true talent.
The second half shows a lot of benefit from the setup of the first series, but I feel that a lot more work needs to be done to get the series back to that level of commitment. Lee has in the end warmeed your cockles like a day in the omens and while kicking potatoes into the sea is a little raw, it is full of heart.