Dream Gig: Kyrah Gray

London-based rising stand-up star Kyrah Gray gives us her Dream Gig, heavily influenced by the iconic comedy show which made Black US comics household names

Feature by Kyrah Gray | 13 Oct 2023
  • Kyrah Gray's Dream Gig

My favourite shows so far have been the ones with fewer people in the crowd. You’d assume that kind of gig would be any comedian’s worst nightmare but they really help you to see how strong your jokes are and validate your talent.

One particular gig immediately springs to mind from earlier this year: a work-in-progress underneath a pub in Shoreditch with Northern Irish-Malaysian comic Peter Rethinasamy. There couldn’t have been more than 15 people in the room. I had a few people in the audience who knew me from social media, but honestly, most of them had no idea who I was. Also in the crowd were a couple that came to the show for a date night and afterwards, the lady approached me and told me that her husband had a crush on me and wanted a picture. Honestly I was laughing for a good 30 seconds out of shock; but they were so lovely, loved the show and made me really happy that they chose to come and spend their evening listening to me test out jokes instead of your classic dinner-cinema-date combo.

Another favourite was a live recording I did for Mo Gilligan’s Spotlight podcast. The crowds at Up The Creek Comedy Club are always amazing but this show in particular definitely lit a fire in me. 

I didn’t actually know what to expect from the gig because I’d never done a live podcast recording before but it was just a really nice experience. I performed a set and we spoke about everything from The Fast and The Furious to how we started comedy and I just felt so comfortable there. Especially because I was alongside comics that I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. It’s also really nice to work with people that have inspired your journey – it really does push your performance without you even realising it. It was definitely a moment where I felt like I had finally proven myself.

For my Dream Gig, I’ve got a realistic option and a non-realistic option…so you’re getting both: 

My super-fantasy gig would take place on a private island in the middle of nowhere. Nobody has any signal so the audience (or the other acts) can’t scroll on their phones for the whole thing; they’re actually forced to listen and take in the moment (a real dream). Instead, what we do have is access to unlimited cocktails, good food, nice weather (hot with a breeze every so often) and of course, sensational comics.

My slightly more realistic option would of course be the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith. I feel like that’s a stepping stone for any comic and having the opportunity to perform on the stage that created some of my favourite comedians would obviously be THE dream.

My dream lineup regardless of the venue would be Bernie Mac, Dave Chapelle, Mo’nique, Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy and Lee Evans. Basically a mixture of the comics I grew up on, have been influenced by and still love to this day. 

Like most kids, I used to dream of going to the US so it’s unsurprising that most of my favourite comics are American. I grew up glued to Def Comedy Jam. There was something extremely raw about the show: it was just straight-up jokes at everyone’s expense, nobody was safe and it felt like a whole different world that I was desperate to be a part of. I also think it highlighted the lack of diversity on British television. I didn’t have a lot of people to look up to on the TV screen, so it really does feel that much more meaningful to be a part of the shift happening in diversifying the entertainment industry and paying homage to those that actually opened the door for comics like me to get through.

I also loved watching Lee Evans all the time with my mum so it’s only right I add him to my dream lineup too.

It’s honestly heartbreaking that I’ll never get the opportunity to see some of these comics perform live (if I have to pay Lee Evans to come out of retirement…I absolutely will) but luckily for us, all of them have timeless specials that I will gladly force my children to watch on repeat.

Kyrah Gray performs as part of COBO: Comedy Shutdown Black History Month Special on Sun 22 Oct at Monkey Barrel Comedy, Edinburgh (4.30pm) and Glee Club, Glasgow (7pm), £15-18. Gray also performs at Glasgow Glee on Fri 27 and Sat 28 Oct as part of their weekend shows.