In Profile: Russell Kane

We catch up with Edinburgh Comedy Award winner <strong>Russell Kane</strong> on his way back from the jungle

Feature by Bernard O'Leary | 05 Jan 2011
  • In Profile: Russell Kane

It’s been quite a year for Russell Kane. No sooner had he scooped the Edinburgh Comedy Award than he was jetting off to the Australian jungle to host ITV2's I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now, an experience he describes as "amazing, adrenaline fuelled insanity." It's a description that could apply to Kane himself, an erudite Essex motormouth who specialises in picking apart the working class mindset. We caught up with him just as the ITV2 show had ended.

Kane can bounce between high and low culture with ease, from getting slapped on TV by Lembit Opik – who objected to being told that he had a face like a kidney bean – to touring his side-project Fakespeare, which rewrites modern pop culture into Shakespearean verse.

After nominations in 2008 and 2009, Kane was finally given the Comedy Award this year for his show Smokescreens and Castles, a universally praised show that was generally considered to be Kane’s coming of age moment. The show looks at Kane's family, growing up as a sensitive literary type in the cultural wasteland of Essex. Along the way there's a probing exploration of the British class system, with a lot of it focusing on the figure of his BNP-voting dad, who believes that an Englishman's self-purchased council house is his castle.  Has doing this show affected his relationship with his father at all? "Yes. I'm more at  peace now than I have ever been. I hope to move forward into positive reflection."

Kane will be taking Smokescreens and Castles on tour as soon as he gets back from Australia, although the show will have changed since its run at the Fringe. "I feel free to improvise," he says. "Some nights I don't even follow the show. I make the hour of comedy fit the room, not vice versa as one must in Edinburgh."

When asked if he now feels the pressure is off for Fringe 2011, he laughs, "Quite the opposite. I feel that the flabby champ must now climb into the ring and be knocked out!"

Finally, we asked who he thought would win an all-comedian version of I’m A Celebrity… "Stewart Lee would win, as he is pretty much king of all comedy so far as I'm concerned." And who would he most like to see doing a bush tucker trial? "I would love to see my mate Simon Brodkin (aka Lee Nelson) do a trial and eat a bollock. He's veggie so it'd be funny on so many levels."

Smokescreens and Castles tours Scotland this January and returns for the Magners Glasgow International Comedy Festival on 18 March at The Garage. Tickets £12 (£10)