Kevin Day begins his act with a long, cautious introduction, letting us know what is to come. He says he's self-aware and whimsical, joking that the entire act is in fact a metaphor for the Scottish referendum – even the sections about lesbian pornography and UKIP weather forecasts – but he also warns us of the glee he takes in being offensive: about Oscar Pistorius, about dwarfism and even about his own wife’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. Virtually nothing is off-limits to his cheeky and often too puerile brand of wit.
The problem with this approach is that the more serious parts of Day’s show are undermined by pointless, spiteful jokes
Really, he tells us, he is a tolerant man. His 1993 Fringe show I Was A Teenage Racist covered his membership of and subsequent rejection of the National Front; he says that now he’s only intolerant of intolerance. So what’s the harm if he makes the occasional misogynistic or homophobic jibe? He’s one of the good guys. He even attended a gay wedding this year, thank you very much.
The problem with this approach is that the more serious parts of Day’s show – like his sincere advocacy of the NHS’ brilliance – are undermined by pointless, spiteful jokes, as he wonders aloud how many cocks Rebekah Brooks has sucked in order to be cleared of all charges. (Of course the jokes about Brooks’ husband Charlie are about his stupidity, not his adeptness at fellatio.) Day’s understanding of homophobia too appears sketchy – once, when trying to change a particularly homophobic Catholic’s mind, he called the Sistine Chapel “probably the gayest building in the world.” Moments like this detract from Day’s supposed liberalism; perhaps he is intending to be knowingly and ironically boorish, but he doesn’t always make it clear. Even if he is, the irony adds nothing. In these cases, it’s just offensiveness for offensiveness’ sake.
The truly funny parts of the show – like Day’s reaction to his wife’s cancer treatment – succeed despite their brashness because they are so clearly well-intentioned. The spurious reasons behind his ‘feud’ with Chris Packham are also extremely entertaining. But by the end of the show, Day’s patchy series of anecdotes have not transformed into anything higher, and we are left wondering whether a show as a metaphor for the referendum would really have been so bad.