There are many preconceived notions that arise when you tell someone where you are from. Maybe it’s an unconscious bias, but the stigma that exists in many places means that sometimes you have to carry that reputation – which has nothing to do with you -.
Comedian Kevin J knows first hand what it’s like growing up on the Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham. The estate had a reputation around it and was previously considered one of the worst places to live in the country, made worse by the riots there in 1985.
But perception and reality are different. And for Kevin, who grew up there in the late 80s, he believed there was so much more going on than meets the eye: “I was born and bred on Broadwater Farm, which at the time I was there was just after the riots, so I was in and around it.Growing up there during that time was highly political, for obvious reasons.
“But I think I had an early exposure to civil rights and an understanding of the oppression of people, because I think the mainstream media sometimes portrayed the riots from an (angle), through a lens, and maybe not from the lens of the people who were there at the time, and perhaps the background of why the riots even happened and what the core or reasons for starting it were.”
Kevin even recounts a conversation with his teachers where they told him not to put his address on his resume. When he asked why they said “Because no one will hire you if you let them know that’s where you live”.
The estate has a very diverse population which is well known for having a large Afro-Caribbean population. Kevin says his family was one of a small number of white families living on the estate which gave him a wide exposure to cultures and other livelihoods. “I feel like I’m a product of multiculturalism and a success story at that,” Kevin said.
These themes are integrated into his comedy routines where Kevin jokes about his experiences of being a white person growing up surrounded and exposed to different cultures. This is something many reviews pick up on, and speaks to Kevin’s authenticity to the subjects he jokes about.
And the authenticity comes from his childhood and fitting in with his friends, “I came to be a single white guy through humor.” Kevin shares anecdotes about bringing his own mayonnaise or salad dressing to his friend’s house because of the spicy food he ate as a joke to make people laugh but also to bridge gaps and be real with himself too.
At Kevin’s social gatherings, you can see lots of the routines he does. In a previous article we covered his interactions with a guest, where he calls someone out for pretending to be from Tottenham. This is one of many videos where you see why he is starting to have the success he has.
This has meant that he will soon debut his first solo show at the Soho Theatre. The show is already sold out which Kevin said left him feeling “a bit overwhelmed”. The show is called ‘Formative’ and asked Kevin what the show is about, he said: ‘So formative is, now as a father and a bit older in your 30s, it looks at where you come from and what you are early on. years and the environment that you’re exposed to in your early years forms that you become, and it looks at that journey and that journey of being where I come from, then being a father and having ambitions for my son, which are not unlike my parents’ ambitions for me.”
Kevin J performs Formative at the Soho Theater on December 11 and 12.
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