Funny is fiercely competitive with winners and losers and toxic jealousies all too common. Comedians compare themselves with each other almost continually and this is easily done along any number of very tangible parameters. How many gigs? Which gigs? Running order? Size of rooms? Size of fee? TV slots… and on and on it goes.
And I suppose wealth is the ultimate barometer of all – albeit a short-sighted measure at best?
Doing some gigs last week in Dubai with a comic I’d never met before. He was called Kai Humphries – and quickly it struck me that he has much to offer and an awful lot going for him. Indeed, given his sunny demeanour and lack of any apparent gripes, it is questionable whether he should be allowed to be a comic at all.
There are many comedians with gilded backgrounds and it is no surprise then that they have much to admire or be jealous of.
But Kai has no such apparent advantages. Working class lad. Bog standard school and yet for
such a young man, he continually wrong footed me with his wisdom and outlook – best demonstrated when he shared a story of the time that he helped out a young boy in his area called Kian.
Kian (a local Geordie, five years old or thereabouts) was gravely ill and had been told that the NHS could only offer palliative care for him. In other words, he was going to pass. Word of his plight spread in the local area with news that his only chance lay with treatment in the US – at a cost of £500k.
People started to organise various fundraising events including Kai and his brother Gav who decided upon a comedians boxing match ably hosted by Rhod Gilbert and a clutch of funny men happy to club each other in-order to help this little boy.
The evening – Punch Drunk – was a roaring success. Much fun was had, some bruises incurred and tears shed – with £40k being added to the pot.
I was riveted as Kai explained all this to me somewhat dispassionately and I continued to fire questions at him. The upshot is that the people of Northumbria raised the necessary funds and Kian did indeed head to the States.
Yeah, and? Did it work?
Kian is now back at school and with a full head of hair. The treatment a success. Kai has footage of the boxing event and an appearance by a healthy Kian at Punch Drunk Comedy Club that Kai runs with his brother.
It’s a remarkable story and I hope enough for a producer to see the potential in for a TV and doc or even a film. The fictional Billy Elliot got in to ballet school and they made a film of it. Big deal. Kian is real and he didn’t die.
Kai is taking this tale to Edinburgh this year – in his show called Punch Drunk Comedy. I predict that there will not be a more euphoric and worthy show on the fringe this year. I predict also much laughs and few dry eyes as this lovely young comic tells a story I expect he will never eclipse – and what he did that night with his brother is a greater achievement than most comics will ever realise for themselves.
Worth sharing also that Simon Cowell, the ‘celeb’ we all love to hate – on hearing of Kian’s fate, weighed in himself by picking up the price of all the flights and hotels for Kian and his family.
Kai is not a wealthy comic when counted in pound sterling – but factor in his family, his friends, his fiancé and his excitement at doing stand-up, I figure he is one of the richest comics I have met and that this a happy tale and worth sharing on this sad day for our country given what happened last night in Manchester.