A new monthly night for lovers of all things literary kicked off with the launch of 'Kill Your Darlings' at The Cube in Bristol. The event is the love child of self-proclaimed 'word idiot' Byron Vincent, award-winning novelists Nathan Filer, Chelsey Flood and Nikesh Shukla, comedian Tom Clutterbuck and Radio 4-endorsed writer and performer Molly Naylor. 'Kill Your Darlings' is a themed ‘scratch night’ of sorts, in which the resident artists perform a bespoke piece, which may or may not go on to be developed, before welcoming a headline act or two.
After braving the horrendous elements outside, the crowd got comfortable in the charming old cinema venue. Molly Naylor, the evening's delightful host, took to the stage to commence the entertainment with a 'power stance' and a clipboard, introducing the evening’s theme as ‘Manifesto’.
Tom Clutterbuck, the first act, launched into his comedic essay with a nervous charm. He explored his relationship with modern day politics and protest, his knowledge of which he compared to his understanding of football - he'd like to learn about it, but “just can't remember the characters, their names and what they do”. He also recounted his own gravely inaccurate GCSE presentation on asylum seekers, which was based on 'factual' content from his parents' Daily Mail. The set concluded with his own manifesto - a pledge to “generally being alright” and “not being a dick”, relayed in the style of The Cub Scout Promise. The audience was suitably smitten.
Next up, Byron Vincent and Nathan Filer took to the stage. The bickering duo got off to a disastrous start as their laptop, containing video clips integral to the performance, failed to function. A haiku about Elton John's salad preferences assured the audience that, whatever the technical issues, there'd be no shortage of laughs. They soldiered on and Byron, with assistance from Nathan, launched into a highly amusing annihilation of the manifesto of Mark and Dave (and the elusive Fabian), designers of the 'Holstee' (essentially a “T-Shirt with a hankie stuck on the the side”), which consists of a load of uber-optimistic nonsense. Byron dissected the manifesto, obliterating each snippet of lifestyle advice with his scathing wit, using both reality and the surreal to counteract. “Do what you love and do it often” he quoted, before questioning, “what if you like spatch-cocking old people” or “horse arson”? “Live your dreams and share your passions” they advise, but as Byron points out, if your passions are mainly “sex and pies”, then “it's just not that simple is it!”
Nikesh Shukla followed, introducing the audience to 'Chapatis for Tea' - an unbelievable guide book for Christians who wish to befriend, and ultimately convert, a Hindu. Nikesh shared extracts from this “passively-aggressive racist” manual and humorously discussed the book's outrageous, ignorant misconceptions about the Asian culture. The book swung between patronising and downright offensive, with ridiculous advice such as, ‘if a white female speaks to an Asian male he will assume she's making a sexual advance’!
The first special guest of the evening, stand-up poet Tim Clare, took to the stage projecting a tremendous, anxiety-fuelled presence. From his poetry collection Pub Stuntman, Tim performed ‘Be Kind To Yourself’, a piece of irresistible and gloriously dark British humour. His use of alliteration, assonance and wonderfully poetic lines like “let your friendships drop like pine needles”, proved to be far more than just comedy. His second poem, 'In Portishead', was a stroke of genius. Incredible rhyming was used on countless occasions to great comic effect, “Come! To where the right-wing prosper/Fewist gypsies south of Gloucester!” The audience was left in stitches.
Final act and headliner, Gavin Osborn, brought a new dynamic to the evening in the form of wistful comedy song. With his acoustic guitar for accompaniment, his music covered a range of topics from Googling himself, to finding love at Sainsbury's, right through to a composition inspired by seeing a pensioner in the mosh-pit at a Charlatan’s gig. The highlight of the set though was the excruciatingly funny song about a disastrous attempt he made with his wife to spice up their sex life, following instructions from an issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.
Promising to be no more than a 'brilliant shambles' by the creators, the opening night of 'Kill Your Darlings' was both a triumph and an appetite wetter. The evening's attendees left more than satisfied with the first installment.
Photography: George Dallimore