Splendid Isolation with Chris Kent

Chris Kent Comedy Linenhall Arts Centre

Today we're talking to comedian Chris Kent as part of our Splendid Isolation series!

Today we're sharing our Q&A with comedian Chris Kent, a long-time favourite of the Linenhall. Chris was due to perform for us in April but the show was rescheduled along with the rest of his tour. 

Here Christ talks about how the world-wide closures have affected his career and offers advices for aspiring artists. 

In this series we interview various artists and performers looking at how they are surviving (or thriving!) during the current crisis and how their artform has been affected. Each artist in the series has had a show/performance rescheduled at the Linenhall as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown so we're checking in with them to see how they're staying productive while in isolation. You can find the full list of artist interviews here.

Tell us a little bit about your artistic practice and how you started out.

I’m a stand-up comedian, currently living just outside London. I did my first gig in 2005 when friends of mine appeared on Des Bishop’s “Joy In The Hood”, a show where Des went to disadvantaged areas and taught people how to do stand up. I watched them do a big gig at the end and went on to watch them doing gigs on the comedy circuit; something I wasn’t even aware existed. I was really drawn to it and found it really inspiring to see people I had never heard of, stand up and try to make people laugh, some of them trying stand up for the very first time. I worked up the courage to try it my self and I was hooked straight away. I did as a hobby for a few years along side my day job as an electrician, always dreaming that I might one day go full time. My dream came true in 2008 when the economy crashed and I could no longer get work as an electrician. I stared to focus solely on comedy and have been doing it full time ever since.

What is your daily working routine?

At the moment I am on lockdown with my wife and two small kids so we are entertaining the kids for most of the day. I am trying to squeeze in some exercise and writing too.

Typically when I am writing a new show, I’ll aim to write for a few hours a day. How and where I do this can vary a bit. When my wife was on maternity leave I would head to the library in the morning and write for a few hours. When she is in work I write while the kids nap or when I’m on the road. Once my current show is finished I don’t really have to write every day, it just evolves on stage after a certain point. I’d still tip away then, keeping notes of any funny ideas for the next show. 

Tell us about what you are working on right now.

Most of my time is taken up with the kids at the moment and my current show “Christy Doesn’t Live Here” is finished so I’m working on bits of stand up for my next show. Whatever that will be, I don’t know yet. I am also trying and failing to grow a beard again!

In what way/s, if any, have the recent Covid-19 isolation measures affected or changed artistic practice?

It has massively affected me. All of my work literally vanished in an instant. I was on my way back to Ireland for the second half of my new tour when the first announcement about restrictions was made. It was a bit of a shock initially but there is a bigger picture and people’s health is the main thing. I’ll be back on stage eventually so in the meantime I am trying to make the best of the situation, enjoying more time with my family and having a well over due detox from social media. 

What advice would you give to someone who would like to explore his or her creativity and know where to start?

I would say start at the start and take it one step at a time. I was inspired to try stand up after seeing others at an open mic get up and try it for the first time. If Tommy Tiernan or Dylan Moran were my only point of reference for stand up I would never have had the confidence to give it a go myself. Do what you like and not what you think others might like. Give it time try and try again and don’t be afraid to fail. You could surprise yourself! I’m an introvert and the last one any of my friends or family would have expected to become a stand up comedian.

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