One of the cheaper tricks of comedy is to be a bit rude and call that humour. It gets laughs, so why not?
A number of comedians seek to offend, especially white middle class 20-something boys, and they gleefully push the offence buttons in the name of “being edgy” – they’re not, they’re just very naughty boys.
Some acts, however, manage to transcend all of this, while still peddling what is ostensibly filth. Kunt and the Gang (actually just one person, by the way) is a prime example.
Here he is…well, making a dirty protest on various pictures of the royals.
How can an act whose name, even though misspelled, is too rude to be put in the title of this post, be one of the best written and most prolific musical comedy performers working today?
Well, let’s start with a few facts:
- Kunt is not the lead singer’s real name (we assume it was changed from something far ruder)
- KATG has released 11 albums (which can be purchased through their online shop)
- KATG attempted to get the Christmas No.1 in 2010 with Use My Asshole as a C*** – the attempt failed, but the single charted
- Shannon Matthews: The Musical is KATG’s full-length musical play about the faked kidnapping of Shannon Matthews
- KATG have a huge following on YouTube, though a number of their videos have been removed
Why does it work? What’s the secret sauce?
Let’s just assume that it’s ok to talk about bad things and be flippant about them because that’s a way of dealing with real bad things that really happen. Let’s also admit that in the right hands, body functions, sexual inadequacy and general bad luck can be funny.
If that’s true then the only thing you need to be an decent artist, rather than some idiot giddily laughing at burps, is a distinctive style and voice, and decent craftsmanship.
Kunt and the Gang have this in spades. Kunt’s world is one of being caught out being a pervert, of lonely masturbation, of reading the tabloids and knowing people just like those featured in cheap tabloid headlines. His musical style is part jingle, part 80’s electro pop.
The pearl buried in the folds is the writing.
While there are common themes, you can’t really accuse Kunt of being samey – each song has something of its own to say, and the use of language is outstanding. If you want a new euphemism for something, listen to KATG’s back catalogue. If you want to hear a song develop a theme, rather than just repeat the same choruses, Kunt won’t disappoint.
While it might be expected for an act such as this to re-word other people’s music, this is a trick that Kunt has rarely pulled. His Katy Perry rewrite is one exceptional exception:
What we most expect from a Kunt album is catchy original songs, quite beepy in sound, with a lot of earthy humour to prod the funny bone.
As you can see from the videos on this page, the production quality of his YouTube offering is above average too. His song Wank Fantasy being a prime example of using visual gags to highlight the silliness of the lyrics:
But isn’t a Shannon Matthews musical going too far?
It’s probably never going to make it to the London Palladium, but his 2010 musical (now streaming for free with Amazon Prime) is way more subtle and intelligent than the title would imply.
If you’re going to cover a subject like this, you need to have decent research and you need to think about how to deal with the subject matter. In this work, The rights and wrongs of what the characters do are very black and white and hard to argue with.
Karen Matthews, for example, is portrayed as someone who selfishly does something stupid. That’s not controversial, because that’s not the aim of this show.
Two very clever characterisation choices are the core of why the show works so well. Firstly, Shannon herself is a cipher, only in one scene, and is not in any way shown to really suffer. This takes away the issue of whether we can feel what she really went through and whether this story should be the setting for a humorous show.
Secondly, all the other major characters are actually quite daft and likeable. Their actions are pretty awful, but they’re not portrayed as demons, just flawed human beings. This is a very smart writing decision, and one which Broadway smash The Book of Mormon also uses to get its point across.
A musical is judged most on its songs, and Shannon Matthews: The Musical has more than its fair share of decent songs that will get into your head. Don’t sing them out loud though!
And another thing
Kunt’s website is worth a visit for more than just his videos and CDs. We particularly like his guide to whether you’ve shit yourself.
Kunt and the Gang are touring. Their dates are here. Go and see. Kunt is funniest live!