Kai Humphries: Punch-Drunk

Kai Humphries delivers in style a Fringe spectacle with amusing stories of his hometown Blyth and of his life which led him into the world of comedy, aided a poignant slideshow. We begin with the jingling rhythms of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky before our smiling host appears to welcome us. Wasting no time on introductions, he ploughs straight ahead into his show.

The emissary of the North East takes a bow and you are left feeling uplifted.

Much of the humour stems from Humphries’ relationship with his family. Particularly, the affectionate rivalry with his brother Gav – a major source which takes the form of many an anecdote, lots of pictures, and finally culminates in a video showing off their arm-flapping charity boxing match. He makes sure to spare neither his grandparents nor his girlfriend, the outcome of which is relished favourably by the crowd. And in spite of the incongruous venue, the act remains stalwart throughout. But more striking still is how endearing and confident his performance appears, especially given that it’s not without risks.

Some spirited nods to his flatmate and fellow comic Daniel Sloss puts the Fringe into a wider context, where this intertextuality regarding their ‘friendship’, shall we say, defies certain boundaries and questions the limits of playful revenge. Yet there is a distinct vein of compassion underlying Humphries’ perpetually upbeat charisma, pushing and pulling us between laughter and empathy, and it is this that emerges as the most memorable feature of his show.

Nearing the end of the evening, Humphries returns to discussing his hometown after a previous barrage of insults aimed at the idiocy of its inhabitants. He initially depicted this as a backwards, redneck-esque place reminiscent of The Wicker Man, but through the lucrative stylings of Kai Humphries’ story-telling we are eventually brought to view his hometown as one that is caring and misunderstood in such a way that strums delicately upon the heart strings. Particularly, the kindness displayed by Blyth in helping raise money to save their own Kian Musgrove from blastoma is genuine and uplifting, serving to remind us of the strength and generosity of small communities.

The jokes reach full circle come the finale, where Humphries’ protracted use of interconnected humour finally puts the rest of the show into perspective. The emissary of the North East takes a bow and you are left feeling uplifted. As you walk out to the sound of New Radicals, grateful and richer for the experience, take to heart the rewarding message behind the laughter: “Never ever quit”.

Reviews by Stuart Mckenzie

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The Blurb

'Phenomenally funny... not to be missed... Brilliant!' **** (BroadwayBaby.com). In boxing, the only thing more powerful than sibling rivalry is brotherly love. Acclaimed award-winning stand-up Kai and his brother Gav grew up on a council estate in the mean streets of Blyth. This wonderfully affirming and downright hilarious story is how a life-changing accident in 2013 led them to create one of the country's most prestigious comedy chains and how Punch-Drunk's literally life-saving Comedians Boxing charity event rejuvenated a community's spirit. 'Awesome... Amazing... Massive laughs... A festival highlight.' ***** (Australia Times). Winner: Forth Fringe Award, 2016.

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