Still only 27 years old, Kevin Bridges is perhaps one of Scotland’s biggest exports. Dubbed ‘brilliant’ by fellow Scottish comedian Billy Connolly, the Clydebank native first made his debut at The Edinburgh Playhouse on BBC One’s Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow in 2009. Overnight success followed, with Kevin selling out his Edinburgh Festival show the same year in just a day. While Middle Eastern TV audiences will know him from OSN’s long-running Live at the Apollo, Kevin also has a raft of other UK TV and radio credits to his name, including his own six-part documentary Kevin Bridges – What’s the Story and a successful documentary Live at the Referendum, both for BBC One. Now, his The Story Continues tour is headed for Dubai on Friday December 12, taking place at Dubai World Trade Centre – a show that has already sold out. But before he graces the desert sands, we caught up with the funny man to hear his thoughts on the journey so far.
On his first-ever gig
I was 17 and I went to a venue [The Stand Comedy Club in Glasgow] with my dad because I was underage. I remember just doing jokes about being a teenager. I just spoke for five minutes and people laughed the whole way through it. I’ve never experienced a reaction like that before. I just had that strange feeling of being in among your mates and everybody starts talking, but it’s always your own private jokes about people you and your pals know. But if you take that onto the stage and make it more accessible, it’s an amazing feeling and that’s what drove me to doing the second gig.
On being funny
I find it hard to remember what the first funny thing I said was to make people laugh but I always remember being shy and nervous from about 14 years old. I was never outgoing and I was quiet in school. You don’t actually realise that you are funny. In the beginning I just thought it would be weird if I went to my mates and told them that I wanted to be in stand-up. I thought they would show up en masse – about 50 of them – and just destroy the gig. I liked that I was doing something different at the weekends and I was meeting all sorts of neurotic people that you tend to meet on the open-mic comedy circuit.
On becoming a comedian
I was reading [British Comedian] Frank Skinner’s book and just thought, ‘I’m going to try that’, and that was as much thought as I gave it. And when the first gig went well, it was like, ‘Wow, can I actually do this?’ and I got booked for the second gig and it carried on.
I learned a lot more in the first two years of comedy than I did at high school – stuff that actually means more in life than trigonometry, like going to the Uefa Cup Final to avoid exams. In high school I went off the rails a bit. That’s when I discovered people found me quite funny.
On ditching school
I missed my maths exam because I went to that Uefa Cup Final. My mum was appalled but I don’t regret it; it’s probably why I got into comedy. If I had passed the exams, I might have gone to university. Although I think I would probably have dropped out, so I reckon I always would have found a way to doing something different.
My mum and dad have always been funny people, they’re a good double act, but my dad’s always quick to dismiss that. But he’s got total respect for people who can stand up on the stage and [make people] laugh.
I enjoy the challenge of stand-up. You don’t have a TV executive to edit your act. You’re the writer, the director, the performer and the editor. So the challenge of stand-up – as much as it can sound appealing in a creative sense – can also sound pretty terrifying because you have nobody else to fall back on. But if you see that as a positive, you are in total control and you can say what you want.
I did The World Stands Up – a TV show on Paramount and I was paid the most I’d ever been paid for anything before. I looked at it as a bit of disposable income because I still lived with my mum and dad. I saw a nice jacket and it was only about 150 quid (Dhs862), so I bought it. But then I thought, ‘What am I doing with a 150 quid jacket?’ So I returned it and the guy said, ‘You only just bought that 17 minutes ago, and you tried it on.’ So I just had to improvise my way through an excuse to get my money back. Then I think I went to the bookies and lost the money betting, so that was a worthwhile experience.
On making it
I was by no means the lost guy in school, I got in a lot of trouble but there was far worse than me and the teachers would always get frustrated that I was wasting my time and potential. So I did feel that I owed it to a lot of teachers to turn comedy into something positive. Now my old teachers come to my gigs. It’s funny seeing some guy who used to chuck you out into the corridor pay 20 quid (Dhs115) to see the show – it’s a nice irony.
I’m not flash. The money is just a consequence of doing your job, and I suppose that shows people are enjoying your stuff. As long as you are good to people and you are paying your taxes. I don’t know how people like Gary Barlow cope. Even the Prime Minister, I don’t even know if he declares how much tax he pays.
On the perks
My mum and dad have always wanted to go on the Orient Express, so I got them tickets for their wedding anniversary. I remember when I was about ten, we were in a travel agent’s in Clydebank and my dad asked how much the Orient Express would cost. My mum just sort of gave him a punch in the arm, like ‘shut up’ and he went bright red when she said the price. So that was nice, though my dad missed the train, so that was even better. He’s the only guy in the history of the Orient Express to miss the train.
I remember the food being amazing, but you get a chicken sausage for breakfast. But I don’t want to be that guy over here demanding that everything be the same as back home. I rather enjoy chicken sausages.
On his worst heckle
I was doing a gig in a prison and five minutes in, a prisoner just got up and went back to his cell. That was pretty brutal.
The British comedian brings his five-star rated ‘10 Films with My Dad’ to Dubai for the first time. Illustrated with clips, Aidan reveals the ten films most important to his relationship with his father.
Dhs100. December 17, 8pm. The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Tower, Bur Dubai; December 19-20 5.30pm. Q Underground, Holiday Inn, Al Barsha.
Dubai Laughing is showcasing Saad Haroon, the comedian who ranked second in the Funniest Person in the World contest, held at the Laugh Factory in Hollywood in October this year.
Dhs100. December 17, 8pm, Q Underground, Holiday Inn, Al Barsha; December 18, 8pm Ballroom at Hilton, JBR. www.timeouttickets.com