The Kenny Moon of the title is a character played by Milo McCabe’s actual father Mike McCabe and the story played out is something pretty close to Mikes life as a stand up comedian in the 80s and early 90s on the sea side circuit and television. Milo, who plays all the characters in his father’s life, makes sure you know that he is the actual star of the show. Apparently he was nominated for an Amused Moose Award last year for a show that was described as a ‘showcase for his … outrageous diamond cut characters’, and he has a burgeoning acting career.
There was little to suggest that there was much more to Milo’s motivations here, it was another showcase of character after character and they were played with gusto and a keen eye for detail but were all pretty unpleasant. Unfortunately there was also a horrible creeping sense in this show of a son using the relationship with his father and his father’s bitter, sad story to further his own career and of a father hoping to get back in the game after 20 years, while trying to get revenge on those he blames for a career that never went as far as he’d hoped. The third person on stage, Chris Henry, as the ‘This is Your Life’ host and the only warm and genuine presence on it, is completely superfluous, standing to the side watching, with little to say or do in a thankless role that could be played by a cardboard cutout.
The show begins with Mike, as Kenny Moon performing some of his old gags. It was hard to tell if we were supposed to laugh at how old fashioned and unfunny they were, or even if they were Mike’s real gags or if this was the ‘character’ Kenny Moon’s terrible gags and that maybe later we’d get to Mike’s actual classic stand up. As things unfold and old videos of Mike’s TV performances are played throughout you realise with horror that these were real jokes and we are supposed to laugh and admire him for them. Indeed there were a handful of elderly people in the audience who were obviously fans of that style (and possibly of Mike himself) and laughed warmly at them.
The videos and posters are presented like evidence in a case that was lost years ago yet there is no sense of redemption or admission that maybe stealing other people’s gags and using them on television might suggest a lack of talent, lapse in scruples or even perhaps just a lack in confidence in your own ability. There’s also not only the inability to admit that there’s no use snarking against ‘Alternative Comedians’ as his Mother-in-Law style was stale long before the early 90’s when his career died, but that maybe he just wasn’t good enough to write fresh gags to appeal to modern, savvy audiences.
Mike spends a the bulk of the show sitting with a bit of a lost look on his face while the videos are shown and the son showcases his talents as the ‘characters’ in his father’s/ Kenny Moon’s This is Your Life story. The worst smacking of racism, esp the Traveller brother displaying all the ugly cliche’s suspected of Gypsies and the Asian Ladyboy ex wife which Milo later admits he made up and added to the story because he wanted to have a go at a part in drag (& obviously some cheap racist/homophobic laughs). But after Kenny laments not being able to do his old racist material, you can see where the son gets his comedy instincts.
Eventually the denouement of the show is reached and a surprisingly creative twist gives hope that there is almost a chance for this story to get interesting and perhaps win some of the audience over but this is destroyed by the last part of the show with a poorly judged, self indulgent ending that wiped away any chance of sympathy with them. Milo came out of character to tell the audience that the tale is true and based on an appalling injustice for a brilliantly, talented, misunderstood and persecuted comedian who’s career was ruined by cruel outsiders and tries to milk it for schmaltz. I feel like I’ve watched some weird take on ‘Inception’ – a delusion within a delusion of delusion.
Milo McCabe is playing at The Gilded Balloon Teviot