Kindness is a concept that does, in everyday life, seem to evade many people. That person who pushes in front of you to get on the train; the guy who doesn’t apologise for stepping on your foot; the teen who won’t help their parents to carry the shopping. However, Sam Brady is convinced that every single person has the capacity and ability to be kind. In his show Kindness, Brady talks us through the last fifteen years of his life, with some interludes from even further back, and his attempts during this time to be a kinder person. Using Buddhist meditation, ridding himself of material possessions and all methods in between, Brady weaves a narrative of compassion and human failings that will resonate with anyone who has ever tried, and failed, to be kind.
Centring the story around his experiences, this feels like a very personal brand of stand-up comedy, as Brady lets you in to his psyche with the tone and honesty of an old friend. This is what this show often feels like: having a pint at the pub with a mate you haven’t seen in a long time. While this does draw the audience in and makes them comfortable, at times it feels a little underplayed and some possible spectacle of the show is lost. This doesn’t seem like Brady’s style though, and not suffering from the small audience at this particular show (the first of the tour), he still emotes like the room was full.
While the show doesn’t pack as much of a punch comedically as other stand-ups, what gives this show an edge is its true human quality. The scattering of puns and pull-back-and-reveal gags get the biggest laughs rather than the more anecdotal punchlines, but it doesn’t matter because Brady is such an engaging speaker. The best parts of the show come when Brady explores the most extreme poles of his emotions, for example his story of hating everything (including a secluded boat on a beautiful vista during a meditation retreat) had the audience charmed and laughing. The other end of this scale – the memory of a funeral he went to – is one of the most human and moving pieces of stand-up I’ve seen.
While I don’t imagine you’ll be seeing him on panel shows any time soon, Brady’s intimate hour and a half is emotionally engaging and more touching than many of the big names on the circuit. The comedy doesn’t quite have the edge of his peers, but in a way this doesn’t matter as what is important is the journey and the point he is trying to make about human nature. Does he find out how to be kind? You’ll just have to go and find out.
Kindness is touring throughout the UK and Ireland until 29 October. For tickets and more information, see Sam Brady’s website. Photo: Cockpit Theatre.