It’s Kevin review – Episode Three – BBC 2

It's Kevin Eldon Episode ThreeThe song that begins each episode of It’s Kevin is always really good, with the lyrics changing each week and Kevin Eldon strutting around some interesting backdrops. It has got my hopes up three weeks in a row and each time I’ve felt let down by the poor sketches that follow.

I counted 18 sketches in episode three, only two of which I liked. Three of them were okay, and there were a few isolated funny moments within the poor sketches, plus the songs which were fun. That’s probably just over one third of the show which was enjoyable to two thirds which was poor. That’s a pretty bad ratio even for a sketch show.

One of the biggest problems It’s Kevin has is that sketches are often completely lacking in jokes and are instead built around punchlines and the premise. Take the beefeater sketch in this episode, which went its whole length without a joke beyond Eldon’s amusing performance and the punchline that his character didn’t know about the Tower of London.

Even worse was a sketch about someone travelling back in time to kill Andrew Lloyd Webber. It was three minutes long and had just two jokes: the premise that someone would travel back in time just to kill Lloyd Webber and the punchline when it is revealed Tim Rice ripped off Rolf Harris’ leg. At a push, you could maybe say the wackiness of the sketch was a joke, but I’ve already written extensively about the laziness of using such absurdity in place of an actual joke.

A three minute sketch can’t have just two jokes in it. This problem occurred in a number of the sketches, for instance, the child chef sketch or the Alexander Graham Bell one. They had nothing but a punchline. And then there were the sketches that relied entirely on absurdity, like the wrist perfume one, or Stewart Lee pointlessly showing up for 15 seconds to make a bad joke.

There was though some sketches towards the end that I enjoyed. The Amish version of the sex pistols’ notorious interview was funny and innovative, contrasting the two extremes of morality to good effect, and I liked the purposefully lame ‘hold your hand over one eye’ sketch, which reminded me of an ingenious Andy Kaufman bit.

The show ended on a song about catchphrases which was really well directed and edited, with the words of the song appearing superimposed on the screen and Eldon filmed at skewered angles in his weird, white world. The show in general is really well directed, adding quite a lot to the comedy and the world Eldon has created. Al Campbell was the director, and according to IMDB he also directed Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe and Newswipe shows, which were also visually stunning.

It’s a shame that inbetween the songs It’s Kevin has been consistently mediocre. Hopefully future episodes will improve, but I’m not that optimistic after the first three. Another three episodes left though, so still time for it to improve.

Choice lines:

  • ‘Is seeing believing?’ ‘Well…’ ‘Rhetorical question.’ ‘Ah.’ ‘You do know what a rhetorical question is?’ ‘Oh, sorry, I thought that was a rhetorical question. Yes I do know what a rhetorical question is; who doesn’t?’ ‘Lots of people.’ ‘No, that was a rhetorical question.’
  • ‘Got a cat called Lady Gaga that’s got a face that looks like it’s been squashed in a vice.’
  • ‘I would not like to get my head between those two beauties and go waba waba waba.’ The poet sketch was funny but it’s the same joke Tim Key has been doing for years now.

It’s Kevin Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Four, Episode Five, ……………………..Episode Six

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7 thoughts on “It’s Kevin review – Episode Three – BBC 2

  1. Actually Kevin Eldon beat Tim Key to the punch of comedy poet by a long margin. They have very different personas anyway though. Tim Key is doing something quite different. Though you could have said Rik Mayall did it before him and remained accurate.

    • Yeah, I read a Stewart Lee piece after I wrote this where he says Eldon has been doing that joke for two decades. I made a mistake there. But I do think the jokes are similar, considering they are both dressing up the mundane in portentous poetry.

  2. constanlty mediocre? what do you rate as being amazing then?

    I believe you to be too ‘overly critical’, if you go with it… yes just go with it. let yourself into the magical place of its kevin. The first episode i didnt really laugh, i’m not sure i was in the right mindset but its got better each time, and now i look forward to it more than any other show on at the moment. nothing else can touch this for straight up laughs, i like the absurd. I mean whats father ted other than absurd? or what about the mighty boosh?

    the first time i watched Father Ted i didnt really get it..

    this is this decades ‘fast show’ its brilliant, creative, harmless and a lot of fun.

    i hope its renewed and not canned so crass stupidity like TOWIE can exist in its place as reviewers such as yourself have called it mediocre.

    • To address your first point; Monty Python is an amazing sketch show. Modern Toss is a good one. Limmy’s Show is more in the vein of It’s Kevin, challenging I mean, but it has a much higher hit rate and is, in my opinion, a lot funnier.

      I wrote an article you can read about It’s Kevin and the use of absurdity in comedy, but to summarise, I think absurdity in this show is used lazily, often in place of a joke or to get out of a sketch. It is wackiness rather than good absurd humour. I think a good comparison would be between The Mighty Boosh and Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy show; the former used absurd humour well, the latter was just random weirdness without jokes. It’s Kevin is often closer to the latter, in my view.

      I get what you’re saying with your last sentence. But this website is trying to offer in-depth critique, because I think there is value in that type of analysis, and because I enjoy reading it when others do it. There are plenty of reviewers willing to give It’s Kevin a good review simply because it’s made by Kevin Eldon, strives to be original, and isn’t some nonsense like TOWIE. But I’m trying to offer something different.

      Thanks for the comment, I appreciate the debate.

      • Agreed, monty python is a seminal sketch show, and i think its ‘kevin’ is far closer to that than ‘Limmys show’ because of the use of links, some homage python massively; but absurdity and generally upbeat sketches have more a circus ring to them

        i’ve been an avid follower of Limmys since he first put clips on youtube in 2004. But theres definitely room for both, Limmys show is dark and pretty oppressive, his twitter stream vulgar and hovers above frankie boyle. The less said about noel fieldings new show the better. close to drivel.

        i guess my point isn’t against your in depth critique, i was just surprised the general lack of support the show has got when i actually find it quite brilliant. The same with matt berrys one season show which disappeared under the carpet. mediocrity is the ‘Armstrong and miller show’ some funny sketches but liases on the side of a middle class Hale and Pace.

        I can tire of charlie brookers melancholy, mirandas harts roe dean schoolgirl humour does nothing for me. The endless comedian panel shows repeating with pats on backs, how bbc can devote its channel 3 to family guy and russell howard reruns.

        So yeah i’m a fan of its kevin, hes unique to me, nothing to do with his past and mates in tow. its nothing like the undertones of harry and paul, . but in a way that a man in his 50’s can be so upbeat and put a lot of classical love and professional care into the humour links on a sketch show. it must be hard to make a sketch show knowing every situation sketch has already been done by the two ronnies or fry and laurie or “the simpsons already did it” and i like the way he knows that but its kind of a cabaret job for him.

        So limmy and kevin eldon are my two to follow and limmy got renewed which i was surprised about the bbc being so forward thinking, i hope it was because of the humour rather than his twitter following . i hope its kevin does too i admire his lack of social media and the fact he doesnt have a twitter and facebook page.

        saying all that praise … something magical happened in the 3rd episode, that didn’t happen in 2st 2nd or 4th.. i hope the next two encapsulate me again. it may have been the amish sex pistols interview.

        keep up the good work anyway

        🙂

      • You make good points, especially the comparison to cabaret. The songs and the fun tone of the show are definitely my favourite parts, and are probably why I keep watching. I just feel the sketches and humour are really lacking.

        I caught Matt Berry’s Snuff Box on DVD and thought it had some fantastic moments. I wonder though if my opinion of it would have been different if it had been given the prominence that It’s Kevin has gotten and I had watched it’s original run. I think it’s interesting how the context in which you view something can alter your opinion of it. Maybe if I’d watched It’s Kevin on DVD three years from now instead of on TV then I’d be writing articles about how great and under-appreciated it is. Thanks for the compliments, cheers.

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