The comedian chatted to Emma Clarendon about bringing several of his shows to London’s Soho Theatre all at once.
Hi Kieran, thanks so much for talking to me. What can we expect from each of your shows? Well, it’s a bit of a motley collection, I’ll admit, but in different ways they’re all about growing up and attempting to understand different aspects of the world. There’s one about going on a French Exchange trip as a hormonal teenager – holiday romances, a precocious interest in writing poetry and many, many hours visiting castles. Then comes one about cycling, ‘Lance’, which features youthful idealism, broken dreams and the pain of leaving home, plus a song! After that is the one that’s all about love and music, ‘Maestro’, where I try to write a symphony whilst also trying to get someone, anyone to go out with me over the course of a decade. Finally there’s my politics and history one, ’75, which is about our journey into the European Community in the 70s. I just keep being interested in things and wanting to share that with folk. Next time it’s gonna be a choice between cathedrals, whales and the railway network.
Bringing all your shows to London at one time that’s quite an achievement! How come you decided to bring all of them back at the same time? I’m lucky in that the shows are all stories without too much of a time limit – they’re these self-contained ‘tales’, so you can bring them back as many times as you like. It’s such a shame that, by their nature, a lot of stand-up shows are created, make audiences happy, and then vanish into thin air. So I thought I might as well take advantage of mine having a longer shelf-life so that people would forgive how lazy I’ve been in not writing anything new this year.
How are you feeling about returning to the Soho Theatre? Over the Moon. It’s a fantastic venue with an extraordinary audience and every time I’m there I’m grateful because you never know when you’ll next be asked back. I mean, look at the kind of legends they get there! I’ll never forget the years I spent dreaming of getting a slot at the Soho, and so to be there with all these shows? Cowabunga.
How do you come up with material for your shows? I try to start with a big topic and a big story. That way I can give the show a unique flavour and also give the audience something to hold onto as I wander around doing various little sketches and characters. The next stage is to find out what I can put of myself into the show for people to connect with, something genuine that I want to say and share. Then come the jokes and silly voices, which are what turn it from being a bad one-man play into a passable one-man comedy show. Leave to bake for six months and voilà!
What do you love the most about performing? Making weird things that I’ve been obsessed with for ages something that a whole room of people can enjoy and laugh at. I’d spent five years mastering this German classical vocal technique called Sprechgesang and you can’t imagine how thrilling it was the first time I performed it in a show and the audience went with it instead of giving me quizzical looks and/or leaving the venue.
Do you have a show that you’re particularly proud of? Oh I love all of these four equally. There is another show that one day I would like to revive if they’ll let me, a double-act show I did called ‘Kieran and Natalie: Parents Evening’. It was a very silly Free Fringe show I did with a friend of mine in 2011, the two of us playing all sorts of different parents and teachers at this sinister school and it was a hoot. She’s a midwife now and lives in Wales, so there are practical barriers to a revival, but a West End run would make millions, I’m sure, and be a very nice excuse to spend more time with Natalie.
What’s next in store for you after your run at the Soho Theatre? Something new. Something big. Can you please write it for me?
The Tales of Kieran Hodgson will be at The Soho Theatre until 10th August. For tickets go to: https://sohotheatre.com/shows/tales-of-kieran-hodgson/