Leicester Comedy Festival review: Rob Kemp at Grays@LCB Depot

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Review by Ella Lloyd

Loud chatter filled the room, then came the shushes: Rob Kemp was about to begin his performance. However, in the kerfuffle of everybody getting comfy in their seats, this show didn’t get off to a great start.

Out came this six-foot something bloke dressed head to toe in sequins, with the most glamorous grey wig to match his sassy persona, but the sound woman was having technical issues.

Kemp quickly tossed his heels aside to run over to help his technical support whilst shouting at his audience to close their eyes, so that his big entrance wouldn’t be spoilt. It was all very confusing. Was this part of the act?

His second entrance involved a lot of interesting dance moves to The Killers’ The Man, clearly a play on to the fact that he was dressed as a woman. Posing as the strong man, he opened the lid to a tiny jar before flexing his non-existent muscles.

The first 15 minutes felt tangled. Maybe the technical issues had blown the routine off course, but Kemp explained this was also a work in progress, and he was very nervous about it.

Despite the last-minute change to the show’s structure, Kemp still made his audience laugh. Particularly when he said being a white male from the West Midlands meant that he should be his own worst enemy when it comes to crossdressing.

The next 60 minutes of his performance were focused on the traits and everyday occurrences of being a crossdresser and a woman in general.

The show had its ups and downs. Some sections were missing a comic punch, but what they lacked in laughs they made up for in emotional or educational impact. In places Kemp would hide behind his fringe to conceal his raw feelings. We might have been at a comedy show, but it became clear that this wasn’t just an act.

Kemp’s ideas were a real eye-opener. The comparisons he built really made you think. He said he did not like the term ‘tranny’, that it was on the same level of offence as the ‘N’ word. At one moment he would make you laugh, but the next make you sad.

At the end of the show Kemp broke down in tears as his audience rewarded him with a huge round of applause.

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