Jamie Kilstein: Sober Song Rants and a Cat Story

Musical comedian Jamie Kilstein has an utterly charming stage presence. Approaching the mic, his eyes flit distractedly about the upper reaches of the Spiegeltent in St Andrew Square. His tattooed arms hold his electric guitar in a loose grip, a comically gentle finger-picking pattern backing him as he blurts out risqué streams of consciousness.

His lightness of touch is apparent even in the seemingly random thoughts he chucks out between songs.

Well, I say risqué. A lot of this material probably could be, in certain parts of his native USA. Here in Edinburgh, the torrents of social justice and opinionated rhetoric pouring out of his mouth feel somewhat diluted. There’s not really any danger of a Fringe audience reacting badly to his blasting of the NRA; his pithy deconstruction of catcalling; his lambasting of Islamophobia; his rejection of religion.

But does that mean we can’t enjoy the humour? Absolutely not. Kilstein is a staunch proponent of anti-douchebaggery, and his songs almost always land with amusing aplomb. He’s not ashamed of working Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Journey into his epic closer; he secretly hopes one of his parodies, Every Country Song Ever (about a man’s hatred of his wife, and conversely his love of his gun and dog) will become a Billboard hit.

His lightness of touch is apparent even in the seemingly random thoughts he chucks out between songs. ‘Does Donald Trump know what a Mexican is?’ he asks all of a sudden, before explaining himself fully, intelligently and, yes, amusingly.

If there’s one song that really falls flat, it’s the one about choosing not to have children, and getting cats instead. The lengthy preamble about his two kitties is a soppy delight, but whether or not you agree with him, the ‘babies are shit’ chat somehow feels pedestrian. Kilstein usually exhibits plenty of wit – this song is crying out for some.

The mix of proficient stand-up, accompanied spoken word and singing makes for a strikingly pacy hour; there’s little time for pause when listening to the smooth loops he creates with his guitar, interpreting his funny lyrics and laughing at the intervening material. The comedy isn’t always groundbreaking, but it’s always packaged prettily and professionally.

Reviews by Larry Bartleet

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The Blurb

Jamie Kilstein fuses music and his infamous rants that have received international critical acclaim. ‘There are few truly insightful, passionate and hysterically funny political comedians around. Jamie Kilstein is a light probing into the murkier corners of the religious right and corrupt politics of his homeland. Funny and penetrating, he's taken Bill Hicks' baton and run with it.’ (Time Out, London). ‘Jamie Kilstein is at once irresistibly endearing and wonderfully audacious. Watching his work is like going to cuddle a puppy and having it hump your leg. But funnier’ (Tim Minchin).