Material: Delivery: Laughs: Room:
Konstantin Kisin, of Russian/Jewish descent, became famous for refusing to sign a ‘Safe Space’ agreement before performing a show at a University, indeed choosing to not perform rather than compromise his principals regarding freedom of speech. During this occasionally funny, but regularly engaging, hour he gives us genuine food for thought around this topical, and thorny subject. His jokes, unfortunately, are not really that offensive. He’s certainly not in the same field as Tim Renkow (Who famously describes himself as being in the position of having nobody to punch down to because he is “crippled, Jewish and Mexican”), and over the evening manages to make jokes at the expense of Lefties, Righties, Glaswegians, Liverpudlians, and frequently, his Ukrainian wife. At one point he decides to kill 2 sacred cows with one stone by suggesting that ‘Jews loving money is a positive stereotype akin to the well endowed black man trope’. Well, I’d never heard that one before.
For the first 10 minutes he seems genuinely edgy and tense, and I can’t quite tell if this is nerves, or a physical manifestation of his tales about being ‘followed’ by the Russian Embassy on his smartphone. The whole affair takes a dramatic upturn however as he hits the middle section of the show in which he begins to draw our attention to what lack of Freedom of Speech actually looks like. A greatly affecting story about his Russian grandfathers criticism of The State wins the audience back onside, and this breathes fresh wind into his sails. He skewers ‘leftie’ hypocrisy with aplomb, utilising a series of increasingly unbelievable examples of left leaning friends who have been called Nazis, and the overall impression that one gets from his excellent political stuff is that he is, indeed, actually inequalities man at heart himself.
To have a genuine comedy scene, you need a freedom scene
(Read the full interview…)
He only comes close to ‘offending’ the audience at one point. There is a neatly boundary pushing section near the end where he riffs on the ‘N’ word. Not that one, but the sharp intake of breath was the only time in the hour in which it felt like he was really sailing close to the edge. There was one genuine issue of principals that I had with this evening. This was the suggestion that ‘being offended is a luxury that people with real problems don’t have’. I tell you what Konstantin, try going down to an Edinburgh homeless shelter on a Friday night and saying the ‘J’ word* out loud. You’ll find that offence can be taken, and responded to, in double quick time by those with the realest of ‘real problems’. A fine orator when he gets going, I’d like to see Kisin returning with something genuinely boundary pushing next year.
(*Scottish pejorative term used to describe someone you think might takes intravenous drugs)
Gilded Balloon Teviot
Aug 1-26 (19:00)