Social media went bananas last year when Kevin Eldon unexpectedly turned up on Game of Thrones. His first scene in last year’s new season of Red Dwarf had to restart because members of the audience audibly went, “Is that Kevin Eldon?” For some, he’s “The Actor Kevin Eldon,” a comedian, clown, and faux poet with a career worth following. For others, he’s “that guy who’s been in everything,” with bit parts in sitcoms from Black Books and Spaced to big budget Hollywood films like Hugo and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory… not to mention more than one hundred others. But his roles aren’t always the bit parts. Here’s a look at some of his best.
Various characters – Jam (2000)
Eldon has done a variety of sketch comedy, including Graham Linehan’s Big Train, starring opposite Simon Pegg, Amelia Bullmore, Julia Davis, and Mark Heap. He also appeared on Chris Morris’ news report spoof Brass Eye, a darkly funny satire. But no so dark as Morris’ Jam, which starred the cast of the much lighter Big Train but swapping Simon Pegg for David Cann. The comedy horror sketches, which started on the radio as Blue Jam, were so disturbing, it was criticized as being too “sick” by the media. In this cult hit, which Anglonerd highly recommends for those with a strong stomach, you will find Eldon as the plummer hired to repair a dead baby, a man arrested for checking his neighbor’s breasts for cancerous lumps upon her invitation, and a man having a breakdown after the repairman refuses to clear away all the lizards pouring out of his TV. Jam is available on region 2 DVD and occasionally smuggled onto YouTube.
Various characters – Attention Scum (2001)
In the 90s, Eldon was part of a double act with Roger Mann. Together they performed at Simon Munnery’s alternatvie comedy night in Islington called Cluub Zarathustra, alongside Stewart Lee, Sally Phillips, Julian Barratt, and other comedy greats. Cluub Z was wildly experimental. There’s a good book about it called You Are Nothing. Cluub Z was given a TV pilot that went nowhere, but Munnery was later given a full series of Attention Scum, where he played his Cluub Z host character The League of Against Tedium. Kevin Eldon is the first actor to appear on Attention Scum. From the bushes, he appears in a red leotard with a big question mark on the front. He spends the rest of the episode running in circles screaming, “What Am I?!” You will not find this bizarre TV show on DVD, but if you’re very (un)lucky, you’ll find a pirated copy on YouTube.
Paul Hamilton is a poet of Eldon’s own creation. He is a character that has transcended medium and has fabricated a life in the real world. You will meet this quirky cousin of Eldon’s on stage at a live performance, on a DVD like The Alternative Comedy Experience season 2 or Kevin Eldon Is Titting About. He was part of Cluub Zarathustra and can be seen in the pirated pilot episode. You’ll hear him on the radio in his own Poet’s Tree program. You can even read his biography, written by Eldon, My Prefect Cousin.
Terry Tyrrell – Nighty Night (2004)
Jam co-star Julia Davis wrote and directed the gross-out sitcom Nighty Night, featuring Kevin Eldon as the cancer-riddled husband of Davis’ character Jill Tyrrell. Although not without misogyny, Terry is a sweet buffoon, deceived by the evil hairdresser that is his wife. When Terry’s cure interrupts Jill’s plan to run away with the hot doctor next door, she sticks poor Terry in a home and tells him he’s dying. Will Terry escape the manipulative claws of psychopathic Jill?
Eduardo York – Hyperdrive (2006-2007)
Long before Eldon appeared in Red Dwarf, he starred in sci-fi sitcom Hyperdrive alongside Nick Frost and Miranda Hart. Frost and Eldon had met on the set of Big Train and they remain close friends. In fact, in Frost’s memoir Truths, Half Truths, and Little White Lies, Frost claims that his and Eldon’s kids are betrothed to be wed. They would later work together again in Spaced, the Cornetto film Hot Fuzz, and Mr. Sloane. In Hyperdrive, Eldon plays Lt. York, a heartless killer held back by Commander Henderson (Frost), who has a big heart and a contemporary approach to enforcing peace.
Lee & Herring Roles
Eldon had large roles in Stewart Lee & Richard Herring’s 90s sketch comedy show Fist of Fun (1995-1996), playing characters like iconic hobbyist Simon Quinlank and an atrociously orange-haired Rod Hull, who was perplexingly addicted to green jelly. Later, he played roles on Lee & Herring’s second sketch show, This Morning with Richard Not Judy (1998-1999), a fake news show spoofing This Morning with Richard and Judy. Long after the end of the age of sketch, Stewart Lee created a hybrid sketch-standup TV show called Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle (2009-2014), and he invited his friends Kevin Eldon and Paul Putner to star in the sketches. Eldon also did some crowd warm up, which you can see on one of the DVDs. The most epic sketch is when Eldon and Putner destroy an apple store and then, by extension, the set of Comedy Vehicle in a post-modern farewell to season 1. Apples go flying, walls come down, much improvisation is made.
Kevin – It’s Kevin (2013)
Finally, in 2013 somebody gives Eldon his own TV show. It’s a six-episode sketch show called It’s Kevin, written by and starring the clown himself. Eldon introduces each sketch, and stars in many of them. It’s a self-aware show, calling the obligatory doctor sketch “the doctor sketch” and so on, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it post-modern. It’s Kevin at his best clowning, bringing to life his sketches you’ve heard on radio and stage. Guest stars include Paul Putner, Jam‘s Amelia Bullmore and Julia Davies, Simon Munnery, Stewart Lee, Nick Frost, all the favorites.
He also stars in a three-season radio show called Kevin Eldon Will See You Now, which contains several of the sketches from the TV show, as well as many others, including David Bowie bare-knuckle fist fighting a bus. Then there’s the standup comedy recording of his Fringe Festival show Kevin Eldon Is Titting About, which is for sale on Go Faster Stripe. Here you get many of the same sketches and characters, such as Paul Hamilton and his French folk singer, and then some. By the time you’ve watched It’s Kevin and Kevin Eldon Is Titting About and listened to Kevin Eldon Will See You Now (the second season is better than the first), you’ll know Eldon’s silly mind inside and out.