Unless you’re a big comedy fan, the name Kevin Eldon may not mean much to you, but I’d wager you’d recognise him if you saw him. One of the most acclaimed and prolific comedy actors working in the UK, he’s been in pretty much every single successful sitcom of the past 20 years. Stand-out performances include the obsessive and weirdly sexual cleaner in Black Books, and his involvement in shows such as Brass Eye, Nighty Night and Jam.
Finally, Kevin Eldon has been given his own show to truly shine as a writer and performer. It’s one of my favourite sketch shows I’ve seen. It’s Kevin is currently four episodes in, but it’s available on iPlayer, and I thoroughly recommend you catch up on it. It has the chaotic and surreal feel of a lot of nineties comedy, no doubt influenced by his early work with Lee and Herring. Every sketch is so well-written and it’s clear it’s a labour of love from a man long overdue his time in the spotlight.
The other thing that instantly leaps out at you when you start to watch the show is the stellar line-up of supporting actors. Everyone from comedy actors like Paul Putner, Julia Davis and Justin Edwards (more faces you’ll recognise from countless great sitcoms), as well as big name stand-ups like Stewart Lee, Bill Bailey and Simon Munnery. I suppose the advantage of having worked with so many comedy greats is that if you get a series commissioned, you can call in a lot of pretty impressive favours.
I think the danger of sketch shows is that they can become a little bland and formulaic, and the format has been crying out for something as dynamic and exciting as It’s Kevin. A show that so expertly weaves together the surreal, the silly, the satirical, and the straight-up hilarious that it could never be considered formulaic. There’s never a dull moment; one minute there’s a satirical critique of the comedy world, the next minute there’s a ridiculous visual gag or a bafflingly surreal glimpse into another world. The Mirror described it as a “sketch show for the YouTube attention span”, which is an incredibly depressing statement, but I understand where they’re coming from. It’s a show that I’ve watched more than once and still found new things I’d not noticed before.
The distinct visual style of the show, and the way each sketch is presented makes every episode an absolute joy to watch. It did divide opinion, but that’s what comedy is supposed to do. Trying to make a comedy show appeal to a mass audience is what leads to most TV comedy being utterly bland in the first place. The anarchic feel that’s missing from so much mainstream comedy means It’s Kevin is a breath of fresh air in a world trying to be cautious and safe, and I really hope it gets re-commissioned for another series.