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Limelight dodging Daniel Kitson a peerless performer

Daniel Kitson has been waiting for an idea for his CQAF show for weeks – months, even. Then somewhere between east London and south London, it arrived. The idea. It just walked in and sat down like it wasn't even a big deal. So if you were in any doubt as to whether this year's festival was going to close with a bang... worry no more.

Perrier Award-winner Kitson is a virtual stranger to our television screens. Aside from his part in Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, something he prefers not to discuss, the man routinely cited as "the best comic of his generation" rarely does TV, or releases DVDs. He's more interested in the up-close-and-personal approach. He wants to see the whites of your eyes.

One critic described him thus: "Off stage, he is like JD Salinger. On stage, he is like Holden Caufield." Another: "He seasons the treacle with grit."

The dour, shambling Yorkshireman was inspired to pursue a career as a comedian when he was 13 after seeing Paul Merton on Have I Got News For You? He did his first gig at 16. "There was no heroism in it, I simply thought 'I'll do that'. And my mum and dad were ridiculously supportive. We had a careers advice meeting at school and the deputy head said: 'So, Daniel, what do you want to do?'

"And I said 'I'm going to be a comedian'. And he looked at my mum and dad in a way that said: 'I assume you've told him this isn't a viable option?' But they said 'Yep, that's what he wants to do'. They just wanted me to be happy."

Five years later Kitson was in the final of the BBC Open Mic Awards, employing his now familiar style of mock arrogance.

"I far prefer melancholy to out and out hilarity. It's more substantial. It's a better meal for the heart," he said.

Much of his stand-up material is channelled from his own experiences, but even his favourite stories rarely remain in his repertoire for long. Once they fail to pack a punch, they're history. Which is why he's been racking his brain, trying to come up with a new idea for CQAF audiences. And now he's found one. And he promises it's going to be good.

Belfast Telegraph