The Lady talks to James McConnel of cabaret duo Kit & McConnel

The Lady talks to James McConnel of the brilliant comedy cabaret duo Kit & McConnel

How did you and Kit start off together?

Kit & I met in about 1985 through a man called Julian Slade who wrote the seminal 1950’s musical Salad Days. We got together, wrote a musical which won the Vivian Ellis Prize in 1988. Since then we’ve written several other shows, including Dame Edna Everage’s last West End show in 2000. 

I was educated at the Royal College of Music, Kit was at Cambridge and we both spent a year doing a Post-Grad at St Catherine’s College, Oxford, studying with Stephen Sondheim.

At the time we met, Kit was working with ‘The Widow’ under the duo title Kit & The Widow. However, I used to write quite a lot of material for Kit & Widow, before they split in 2011. I took over and have been with him ever since.

What inspires your material?

Our inspiration comes from classical music and from theatre composers such as Gershwin, Sondheim, Cole Porter, Noel Coward etc, but in particular our cabaret style is influenced by the likes of Flanders & Swann and Tom Lehrer.

We both write all our material. Kit 90% lyrics, me 90% music. Getting the subject for a song is easy, it’s making it funny that’s hard. You have to find an angle which lends itself to humour. Sometimes songs can take weeks, sometimes minutes. There’s no real hard and fast rule, although it generally takes me about three or four days to write the music.

Who is your audience?

Our audiences tend to be middle-aged plus - although we’ve been getting a nice influx of youngsters (under 30) recently. Having said that, there are very long-term fans who always come to our shows, especially the Edinburgh Festival, which we do for two and a half weeks each year in August.

What is your favourite show memory?

I suppose the most memorable shows from my point of view are the tours we did with Joan Rivers. Playing the Albert Hall by yourself, on stage and singing nonsense to 5,000 people is one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

if you'd like to see the duo in action, go to Kit & McConnel's website below for upcoming dates.