A bit of naughtiness is nothing for Kay, a stand-up on the edge. During ﬁlming for Phil Kay Feels . . . Sporty, just after he had been talked into skateboarding down the on-stage banister at break-neck speed by his safely- seated audience, one woman remarks that Kay must have been the kid at school you could get to do anything. True?
‘God, no. Never,’ he says. ‘I was very aware of what was wanky and what was boring. I never fell off my chair in class to make people laugh, because it had been done. But I’ll do almost anything now. I almost hit a golf ball up the street the other day, just on a whim. And I will climb things, and I will jump off things, and I will disrobe quite a lot.’ Witness Phil Kay feeling naked in one of the show’s particularly raw stunts.
‘lt’s this interaction thing, y’see,’ he continues. ‘I love interacting with people. Sometimes it’s a bad feature of the show, though, because I’ll be talking to someone and nothing will happen, and I’ll just think, “Oh my God . . But sometimes it can be a beautiful feature. Like the other night I was crawling around this desert island on the show, and this bloke shouted out, “Nice ass!” So then I started to pull my arse apart in my jeans and said, “Now is it nice? Imagine what’s happening in there!” I try to avoid negativity and I don’t have stock phrases which I say back to people.’
Only one problem. Stand-up comedy, in virtually any form, rarely works on television. An audience content to sit in its living room and, challenge a performer to amuse it, is far harder work than one that has invested time and money in a good night’s live entertainment. Kay is as guilty as the rest of us.
‘I can sit there and watch something I know is good, but I just stare at it — because it’s on TV,’ he says. ‘What TV works well at is making you interested in something. I would much rather watch a documentary about Bernard Manning than I would watch the Jack Dee ’5 Saturday Night, much as I love J aek Dee.
‘What we wanted to do with our show was create something exciting in a room which exists as a real gig, and just has the cameras there to document it. This’ll just be like watching some guy do something funny with a crowd of people. And that, for me, is important, especially if you get the feeling that a lot of it is made up. It’s special, I think . . .’
Uncovering the ‘real’ Phil Kay behind the big kid is something you get the feeling he’d let you do if you only had the time, the will and a particularly generous barman. Ditching professionalism in favour of kitsch gimmickry seems the only way to delve deep into the man’s soul. The question is, will Kay fall for a cheap. cheerful psychological profile claiming to gently caress the inner psyche with startling subtlety and faultless accuracy?
I ask Kay to name his favourite animal. and then give three descriptive words explaining his potentially worrying fondness for it. Phil? ‘Oh right, I see . . . um . . . a horse. Becaaause . . . not a lot of animals are so hot to trot, and action-packed, so “action”. Um, “physicality”. Anr’ they look like they’re always thinking, so . . . “thinking”.’
Lovely. And his favourite body of water? ‘Oh . . . a freshwater lake. It’s “swimmable-
in”, “fresh” and. because you can drink it, and dive into it, and all that. . . uuuum . . . “fully- functional“.’
And, finally, Phil, you’re trapped in a small. dark cupboard. How do you feel? ‘Relaxed. Calm. Accepting.’
So how did Kay fare in this particular example of shoddy pseudo-intellectual guff? The animal he chose. it is said. symbolises his
'I was very aware of what was wanky and what was boring. i never fell off my chair in class to make people laugh, because it had been done. But I'll do almost anything now.’
self-image — ‘action-packcd’, ‘physical‘ and ‘thinking’. The water apparently symbolises his attitude to sex. which is, ahem. ‘swimmable-in’, ‘fresh’, and ‘fully- functional’. And they say romance is dead . . . And, finally. the trapped-in-a-cupboard scenario is said to represent a person’s
Phil Kay: all systems functioning normally
subconscious attitude to death. Kay chills with his ‘relaxed. calm and accepting’.
But has the real Phil Kay finally stood up? ‘Er. well, I knew how this one worked,’ he admits. Oh.
‘Yeah, but I didn’t want to tell you. because you wouldn’t have done it. I was still honest in my answers, though. It’s just that l was enjoying seeing how you were guiding it, and so I was psychologically testing you, y’see, to see how excited you were by the answers and how you thought they were fitting in with the rest of the conversation . . .’ He laughs his head off. ‘That was cool.‘
The results of the test. then, show, quite conclusively, that Phil Kay. darling of Scotland and soon—to-be-hero of Friday night television, is little more than a manipulative bastard. ‘Ha ha ha . . . that was cool.’
Phil Kay Feels . . . is on Channel 4.10.30pm from Fri 18 Apr.
18 Apr—l May 1997 THE U317