Making 'em laugh on dad's home turf

COMEDIAN Russell Kane is taking notes as he talks about his Barking-born father. Mr Kane, Snr, sadly passed away in September 2003, but Russell claims his greatest gift was bundles of material for his stand-up routine. As he talks to me about him ahead o

COMEDIAN Russell Kane is taking notes as he talks about his Barking-born father.

Mr Kane, Snr, sadly passed away in September 2003, but Russell claims his greatest gift was bundles of material for his stand-up routine.

As he talks to me about him ahead of his appearance at The Broadway theatre's Comedy Club in Barking on Thursday, he remembers two stories that have yet to make his act.

He describes his dad as an "a typical alpha male from Barking, a steroid-using, former club bouncer, who also played rugby".


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He chuckles out loud and says: "I'm actually going to write some of this down, because I'm only remembering it as I say it."

He continues: "He told me that when he was bodybuilding in his early 20s, women use to touch him because they didn't think he was real and that when he played rugby at school he was so big he didn't run with the ball, he just walked....and he was deadly serious."

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When his dad was 35, he moved the family from Sandringham Road.

Russell was born in Enfield, and then they relocated to Westcliff-on-Sea. Russell now lives in Southend with his girlfriend.

"Yep, my dad was Barking through and through....he always called me boy, told me that despite all the female attention from the bodybuilding that he 'never cheated on your mother' and actually built a gym at the end of the garden."

Like most comedians, Russell tackles many topical and delicate subjects in his routine and finds it amusing that a griffin (as in BNP leader Nick Griffin) is "part eagle, part lion, so technically mixed race".

He adds: "Like many people of his era, my dad was probably mildly racist and often bigoted. It's just a shame I never had the guts to bring a black friend home and tell him he was my boyfriend. I would loved to have seen his face!"

Russell, who last year starred in the BBC's celebrated Live At The Apollo series, first tried his hand at stand-up a month before his dad died, when he read out one of his short stories at the Comedy Cafe in Shoreditch.

People laughed so he went away and worked on a stand-up routine, but didn't do comedy professionally until three years ago.

"I left university with an English degree, got a good job as a copywriter at a marketing company and was living in Clapham with pedigree cats. I thought I'd pretty much made it."

But in 2006 Russell decided to concentrate on comedy full time. He quickly won a Laughing Horse New Act Of The Year award and hasn't looked back since. He is now a major player on the international comedy circuit which takes him regularly to gigs in America, Thailand, Hong Kong, Spain, Holland and France and Australia, where he's just returned from a tour with Tim Vine.

Also big mates with Lee Mack, who stars with Vine in the hit sit-com Not Going Out, Russell is working on several TV pilots and is in talks with Q Radio about his own show.

He explains: "Unlike acting, the comedy circuit provides comedians with their weekly bread and butter. We can go out there and play a couple of gigs a week and pay the bills, whatever happens, and I'm forever grateful for that."

Russell headlines The Comedy Club at The Broadway, Barking, on Thursday. Tickets are �11 and available from www.broadwaybarking.com.

- MATT TROLLOPE

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