Wit and wisdom of funnyman Kev
Local boy made good has learned some lessons
THE KEVIN Bridges who sips black coffee while sitting on a nice leather sofa in a swish Glasgow hotel (not far from his £2m home in Glasgow’s West End) doesn’t look too different from the young man who took to the comedy circuit as a 17-year-old – except quite a bit slimmer, with a better haircut. Oh, and more expensive trainers.
But what’s inside his expensively barbered head? When riches of Croesus arrives at the doors of entertainers in Eddie Stobart-sized loads (Bridges grossed almost £8m for the last run of Glasgow gigs alone) common sense invariably leaps out the window. Before you know it, the Columbian dancing dust has taken hold and the next thing you know they’re filling in forms for the Colorado rehab clinic and scrubbing out toilets with Lindsay Lohan.
What keeps him grounded, away from the opportunistic platinum blondes and the urge to flash the Platinum Amex? What keeps him away from the Chiltern Fire Station and having selfies taken with Nick Grimshaw and Caroline Flack? Conversation reveals a great deal; indeed the answers could well be Kev’s Ten Commandments for those who may find themselves elevated beyond expectation.
The first is Thou shalt not by a house up the road from Elton. Bridges chooses to live in Glasgow (no Ferraris in the driveway) in a nice, yet mixed income area. And when he strolls its streets he doesn’t take on the aura of the carefully-cloaked, head-down, movefast Frankie Boyle, whose movements suggest Unemployed Terrorist Bomber. No, Bridges walks the dog in his shorts (the dog isn’t wearing the shorts) to the shops, at a regular pace. As an ordinary person would. “I’ve never been an extrovert,” he says on the subject of recognition. “I’ve never chased the limelight. I was someone who was chucked out of school for being funny so I figured I’d try and do something positive with that. But then one day you realise you’re on the telly and start to panic about walking down the street.”
But he deals with it. Shorts on. Dug on lead. The price for living in a city where he’s a comedy hero is worth paying. “Oh aye, the positives outweigh the negatives, although at times I just want to go into the post office and not be recognised because at the times the public feel an ownership.” He adds with a chuckle; “Six degrees of separation? In Glasgow it’s far less. I’ve got uncles and cousins I never knew I had. But most people are nice. And at the same time, I don’t want to move to London. My family and friends are here and it would be really sad to leave them behind.”
But how does he cope being more minted than a Polo factory? Second Commandment; Thou shalt not become Gary Barlow. “I have a socialist outlook yet I believe people should earn and try to be prosperous. Aye, I’ll get criticism for being a millionaire but I’m happy to pay 46 per cent tax in Scotland.” A sip of coffee fuels a little anger. “I look at the likes of Gary Barlow on Children In Need asking the public to send in money and find out he has his money in off-shore accounts. To be honest, I really don’t know how he can sleep at nights.”
Third Commandment; Honour Thy Ma and Da. Bridges bought his parents a home in Clydebank said to be worth almost £900,000. He is spectacularly generous to family and friend. But does it become wearing when asked for a lend of fifty quid, or 5000 quid? “A lot,” he says with a wry smile. “It’s a bit sad. You try and be good to people and they ask you for a certain amount and (when they get it) never mention it again. So what do you do? I’m doing 19 nights at the Hydro so how can I possibly go chasing them up? But then you learn. The money has been well spent in a sense because you know not to trust that person again. There’s never a next time.”
Recently, Bridges walked off stage because he was being heckled. Now, there are critics who will say ‘Just keep going – that’s what you get the big bucks for, Kevin.’ But it’s not that simple. Bridges doesn’t tell gags.
He crafts delicate, cleverly woven tales. When the heckling starts he’s internal knitting is ripped. And you wouldn’t go to a theatre and heckle Anthony Sher during a soliloquy.
This sensitivity invokes the next epistle; Thou shalt avoid Twitter storms like the plague. Bridges doesn’t look at social media during his concert runs in case it interferes with his head space. “One negative comment could derail me. And if I’m happy with the show I don’t need to read all the positives.”
Bridges is clearly an international-class worrier. The next Kevin Commandment reveals how this works in his favour. Work harder than a Snow White dwarf to get the right material. “There are times when I worry that I’ll never think of anything funny ever again,” he admits. “I feel it a lot. It’s like writer’s block. You try so hard but nothing comes. And I don’t use other writers – that’s why I only tour every few years.”
When he gets ideas he throws them down on notepads, train tickets. Bits of scrap. “I will bounce ideas of people.” Who? “My girlfriend.” He grins; “It drives her a bit mad, because we can be walking through the park, and I’ll tell her it, but she’s getting it at the raw stage.” He grins: “When you give someone an idea and they say it’s rubbish, sometimes it gives you a twisted drive. I just think ‘I’m going to show you. I’m going to make this funny’.’’
•Kevi■ Bridges, TheBranmd New Tour – Live is out now on DVD and Digital Download. He will be signing copies of the DVD at hmv, Argyle Street, Glasgow, December 14 at 6pm.
Kevin Bridges wows the audience with his stand-up routine