Kae Kurd @ Pleasance Courtyard

An impressive and promising debut from Kae Kurd

Review by Ben Venables | 15 Aug 2017
  • Kae Kurd

Kae Kurd is in a dark bunker talking about ISIS. But his lifestyle has been far away from political conflict, even though his parents fought Saddam Hussein and moved to the UK in 1990. Young Kae grew up in Brixton, and now he draws neat contrasts between his own lifestyle watching action films, and that of his cousin, a soldier in action.

His debut takes a look at the question "Where are you from?" and briefly stops off on labels, questions of identity and the generation gap – his impressive GCSE results are still a disappointment to his father. On pieces of paper, Kurd also asks how much practical significance petitions have, being as they are stand-ins for something they are not – actual protest.

Despite all this, Kurd leaves the impression he'd like to shake off some of the weightier material and just have some fun – especially with accents. He pulls it off too and there's a perceptive routine on mimicry and trying to avoid social embarrassment. Once he's done his impression of Nelson Mandela – and then somehow managed to make a routine on Scottish vowels a success, rather than alienating the home crowd – he's soon doing impressions of Kevin Bridges, John Bishop and Michael McIntyre. He's making a point about if they were playing the black comedy circuit, but we suspect Kurd just wanted a chance to do his Scottish and Liverpudlian accents too. 

The material is generic in places – the supermarket, coffee shops, a comic becoming middle-class, friends starting to have kids – with the original sharper contrasts falling away from the refugee premise he initially established. He's the kind of comedian who may not need to tell an hour long structured story though. When he talks of his influences it's all American stand-up – Eddie Murphy, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock. And there is something more American about Kurd's delivery and stage confidence; perhaps it is in an attitude and point of view that will eventually unify his set better than a story. But whichever way he develops – storyteller, stand-up or a guy doing silly voices – Kurd's debut shows remarkable range and promise.

Kae Kurd: Kurd Your Enthusiasm, Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker Two) until 27 Aug (not 16), 530pm, £8-12