The measure of the man

Over several years, I have regularly – but not religiously attended Daniel Kitson’s comedy shows and theatre productions. You know how I feel about comedy. Generally speaking, I have liked Daniel’s shows, even if the word “like” seemed petty kudos for a man whose vocabulary is as persistent as a nudging morning erection in your back, and whose energy and wit are simultaneously mind-shatteringly depressing and irrefutably life affirming. The shows are good. I’d pay money to see them.

You and your handy google fingers can work out both who Daniel is and how his shows work.

Ordinarily, when I see some Kitson, I am filled with equal parts revulsion and attraction, entertainment and shame, thrill and disgust. I get confused, then I feel closer to him, then I feel very far apart. Then I recalibrate myself and I feel closer to myself and the people I love. At my heart though, I am slightly ambivalent about Daniel because – somewhere under there, perhaps not far from the surface is someone capable of something I’m not entirely comfortable with. I don’t always like to see “things” to feel comfortable.

This weekend, I went and saw Daniel’s show Where Once Was Wonder at the Brisbane Powerhouse. As Daniel himself likes to affirm, he does “edgy comedy” and indeed it was. For the first third I hated him, the second I hoped for him, and by the final act I wondered again if I too was not the subject/object of his irascible gaze.  While others were laughing, or being laughed at, or being burnt by Daniel’s pre-primed heckle paranoia, I felt equal parts revulsion and attraction, entertainment and shame, thrill and disgust. I got confused, but over time, I’ve felt that that’s exactly what I am meant to feel, then I felt closer to him, then I felt very far apart. Then I recalibrated myself and I feel closer to myself and the people I love.

In my heart though, I felt profoundly ambivalent about Daniel because – somewhere under there, perhaps not far from the surface is someone capable of something I’m not entirely comfortable with.

But you know what? I don’t think Daniel cares.

By Eleanor Jackson

Eleanor Jackson is a Filipino Australian poet, performer, arts producer, cyclist, writer, gal about town, feminist, freewheeler, and friend.

4 comments

  1. Hey – I’ve somehow stumbled across this page, and need to thank you for managing to articulate what I’ve been struggling with. I laughed harder than I can remember at any other comedy show I’ve seen recently, yet ultimately it left me feeling just a little bit too uncomfortable and unwelcome. And as much as, like you, I enjoy being “challenged” (or whatever other unpretentious word is better), I’m starting to wonder if it can be done successfully with something as personal as stand up. Bleugh.

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