It’s Kevin has gotten some decent reviews and most of them highlight Kevin Eldon’s acting as the show’s biggest strength. I agree with that, but not even someone with comic timing and performances as impeccable as Eldon’s can make poorly written sketches funny.
In episode four we had a parody of 1980’s Northern misery dramas. A Liverpudlian family are in dire straits, and the only joke in the sketch is the over the top nature of their suffering. This is a joke that is literally two decades out of date. Yeah, Eldon is kind of funny in his performance and Julia Davis is good as well, but they can’t carry the sketch only on performance. And why is such a tired, out-of-date premise making its way into a sketch show with seemingly every decent British comedian in the country working on it? It is baffling that they seemingly put such little work into the writing relative to the talent they acquired for the acting.
Another apparent strength of the show is its originality; it sends-up comedic tropes according to the Guardian. Does it though? In every episode so far we’ve had a doctor’s sketch, a famous and over used sketch set-up. In episode four, the doctor can’t understand what Kevin is saying, and that is the entire joke. I get the impression that the writers think it’s enough to simply say the words ‘doctor’s sketch’ as a wink to the comedy enthusiasts watching, and think that the pointed reference alone makes the sketch funny. It doesn’t.
We also got a surreal sketch about a screaming pillows salesmen, which is very similar to a lot of sketches I’ve seen before; Burnistoun’s furniture salesmen, for instance, or Family Guy’s whacky inflatable arm flailing tube man.
There was one sketch in particular which illustrated It’s Kevin’s lack of originality, and how you can’t build a sketch show on performance alone, no matter how good it is. In the sketch, Eldon played a nerd in a shop who finds a toy of a talking figurine that looks exactly like him. Besides the performance, there is one joke in the whole sketch, and it is that Eldon’s character is a virgin. A joke around the reveal of a nerd being a virgin is not something that should be ever making its way into a professional sketch comedy; it’s such an obviously over-used gag that I can’t help but think they included it out of laziness, because surely someone would notice how noticeably tired a joke that is?
Eldon’s acting in the sketch is quite funny and my attention was captured from the start, as he was filmed from a distance obsessively placing products back on the store shelve as neatly as possible. But that only grabs the audience’s attention; the show then has to build on that, and make the sketch funny. And you can’t do that with tired, old jokes.
There were a couple of sketches in this episode I liked. The diner party sketch, which stressed the boring routine of those types of conversations, was okay, and the chair and stick music one had some funny delivery: ‘Why not try the songs of Coldplay, arranged for chair and stick, or Kate Bush’s The Sensual World, arranged for chair and stick.’
These moments and a few others aside though, the episode was again disappointing, although at this point I should probably be approaching the show expecting it to be really poor. It just feels strange doing that, considering the comedic talent involved. At least the songs are good, and the musical, supermarket bullying sketch was the best bit of this episode. Here’s hoping episode five is 90% songs.
- ‘He’s got a tattoo he did on himself of one of the boys from Jedward; Edward, because he doesn’t like John.’ ‘John? No. They should call themselves Edward.’
- ‘Sometimes I wonder if you are making the best use of this space,’ Eldon tells his caretaker, in his tiny cupboard in the middle of the giant white world.