Kevin Gillese turns post-pandemic grief into laughter at Dad’s Garage

The first solo comedy show from long-time improviser and filmmaker Kevin Gillese is billed as being as "nihilistic as it is funny." Courtesy of Chelsea Patricia

Credit: Chelsea Patricia

Credit: Chelsea Patricia

The first solo comedy show from long-time improviser and filmmaker Kevin Gillese is billed as being as "nihilistic as it is funny." Courtesy of Chelsea Patricia

This story was originally published by ArtsATL.

Actually, ″7 Minutes in Kevin,” the new solo show from comedian Kevin Gillese, running Saturdays at Dad’s Garage through June 8, has a run time of over an hour.

“I thought it would be funny,” the seasoned improviser and filmmaker said in a recent interview. “The pun title is a well-ridden tradition.”

Despite the title, the night of solo comedy does not take the audience on a tour inside Gillese’s physical body, though he does hold the show — featuring big laughs and autobiographical stories about his past — close to his heart.

“I didn’t know that this is where my artistic heart would be drawn,” Gillese says about the funny personal material he explores in "7 Minutes in Kevin." But he says he'd like to continue working in this vein. Courtesy of Chelsea Patricia

Credit: Chelsea Patricia

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Credit: Chelsea Patricia

“I didn’t know that this is where my artistic heart would be drawn,” he said. “But now that I’ve done it, I don’t care if I make money off this. From where I’m sitting right now, I want to keep doing this kind of work. It feels good to me.”

Directed by Alison Rae Clark and featuring live accompaniment by musician Matt Hobbs, the show will be pretty special, Gillese promises. He spent two years developing the script, which includes hilarious anecdotes of wacky moments about his Canadian upbringing and his career in comedy, which began at age 19.

“I drop in some stories that are older, that date back to the 1990s and moments from my career that are just hilarious,” said Gillese, who was artistic director of Dad’s Garage for a decade, through 2019. “But the emotional core of what we’re really discussing is over the last three years.”

During the pandemic, the comedian said he went through some struggles and sought to connect again with others. This show emerged from that experience.

“On this show, I can say that going through the pandemic and emerging from it, I started to feel a deep sense of isolation, alienation and loneliness,” he said. “I felt like the world had gone crazy, and I didn’t know my place in it anymore. And I didn’t know if anybody else was thinking or feeling the same way I was feeling.”

Afterward, he found that others could relate to what he was facing.

“Talking to people, I realized they did,” Gillese continued. “And I thought, if I can channel everything that’s been going on with me for the past few years into a show that’s funny and digestible, I can give people a fun night out, but I can also reach out in a way to people who are feeling like that and make them not feel so alone.”

Theater gives people an opportunity to reconnect, open themselves up and laugh together. Gillese compared the tone of the show to the works of comedian Mike Birbiglia, who uses comedy as a means to explore some deeper perspectives that might resonate with the audience.

“There’s definitely a higher degree of intimacy in this show,” Gillese said. “I talk about stuff that’s pretty personal, but it’s purposeful and intentional. I’m lucky to have my director. She’s given me such a good outside perspective. I don’t think that I’d be able to do this show without her. It’s so vulnerable, and it’s important that it’s vulnerable. But without outside guidance, I don’t know that I would’ve been able to shape it. Thank God Alison and I connected on this project.”

Gillese said that fans of his improv work will find the show funny and surprising. But for audiences who’ve seen his movie “How to Ruin the Holidays”which starred his wife, Amber Nash, and veteran comedian Colin Mochrie in a deep and deeply funny story about a family coping with its problems — the tone of “7 Minutes in Kevin” will be rewarding.

“Come to have laughs,” he said. “There are lots of them.”


“7 Minutes in Kevin”

At Dad’s Garage through June 8. 10 p.m. May 25 and June 1, 8 p.m. June 8. $20. 569 Ezzard St., Atlanta. 404-523-3141,


Benjamin Carr is an ArtsATL editor-at-large who has contributed to the publication since 2019 and a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, the Dramatists Guild, the Atlanta Press Club and the Horror Writers Association. His writing has been featured in podcasts for iHeartMedia, onstage as part of the Samuel French off-off Broadway Short Play Festival and online in The Guardian. His debut novel, “Impacted,” was published by The Story Plant.

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Credit: ArtsATL

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Credit: ArtsATL


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