Chris Kehoe: Comedy Spotlight

The Boltonian satirist may have entered the comedy circuit later in life than some, but that just means he has a whole lot more to say about the state of the world

Article by John Stansfield | 03 Mar 2016
  • Chris Kehoe

In times of austerity and political unrest it is said that the arts thrive. Finding something to fight for and against through periods of adversity makes the philosopher's voice louder. Though we’re in no mood to state that times are tough, at present throughout the UK there is a definite rebellious and almost anarchic rippling throughout the nation that might be caused by the systematic crushing of the NHS, education and the welfare state. But then, we’re not satirists. Chris Kehoe is, and he’s a damn fine one at that.

First gig:

“Like many it was in the (occasional) bear pit that is King Gong at the Comedy Store in Manchester, in November 2013. It went pretty well, I got to 4 minutes 55 seconds despite not really having any material. I remember thinking, ‘This is easy,’ so I went back the following month having done nothing in between and did about 30 seconds of laboured improvised rubbish before being gonged off to a chorus of boos and jeers. I remember thinking, ‘This isn’t very easy at all,’ and started actually writing stuff.”

Best gig:

“I remember quite early on doing a spot at the Frog and Bucket which was largely unmemorable but for the fact that I did a joke that involved me talking to a taxi driver about different theories of time. It was a slow burner of a punchline and the feeling as a wave of laughter went around the room has stuck with me. I love the delayed-response laugh when the audience have to think about it for a couple of seconds. I also did a 40-minute set at the Bolton Octagon in November 2014 which was great in that it was my first hometown gig – it was the first time any of my family had seen me and the first time I had done anything on that scale. They’re all good, though. Even the bad ones.”

Worst gig:

“I say they’re all good; there was an after-dinner gig at a Christmas lunch for an organisation who shall remain nameless that was a complete train wreck. It wasn’t my scene and was all very Laura Ashley print dresses and, ‘Ah, Major Worthing, I haven’t seen you since the fall of Tunis.’  About ten (laugh-free) minutes into my set a man, effectively dressed as a circus ringmaster, stood up and told me to stop what I was doing. He was clearly a figure of influence as everybody agreed with him that I was a bad person. Then, when I tried to defuse the situation by ‘bantering’ with him, he just held his hand up, turned his back on me and sat down. When the hecklers refuse to engage with you, you have irrevocably lost the room. I still got paid, though.”

If you were on death row, what would your last meal be? And why are you on death row?

“I would carb load with a vat of potato hash, like a boxer after the weigh-in, in the hope that I might break the rope and make good my escape. Although I probably wouldn’t be very good at running due to all the food I had eaten. If I do end up on death row then I hope it’s for piracy.”

Favourite venue:

“I am going to say the Comedy Balloon [at the Ale & Apple]. What’s not to like? It’s free, the beer’s good, and for a new comedian you get the chance to do ten minutes without the spectre of a gong casting its shadow across the stage. There’s also a brilliant unpredictability about it; you can see established acts, first-timers, new acts with promise, new acts with no self-awareness. Some nights it feels like you’re all castaways taking it in turns to entertain one another with your dehydration-addled ramblings, and then someone really good will get up and tell you why it’s not a good idea to give a giraffe laudanum. It’s a jewel in the Mancunian crown.”

What’s the largest animal you think you could beat in a fight? No weapons.

“I would fight a deer because I knocked down and killed one in my car last year (by accident), which seems unfair, so I would like to give the deer the chance to redress the balance.”

Question from past Spotlight Foxdog Studios: What’s your favourite chore and how have you optimised its execution?

“Ironing. I have optimised its execution by outsourcing it following a full tender process.”


Chris Kehoe plays Coach & Four, Wilmslow, on 3 Mar; Sale Waterside Theatre on 5 Mar; Comedy Balloon, Ape & Apple, Manchester on 9 Mar; and Miners' Club, Moston, on 12 Mar.