John Kearns: Shtick (4 stars)

This article is from 2014

John Kearns: Shtick

Last year's Edinburgh Fringe Best Newcomer delivers a funny, contemplative follow-up

There's always going to be a certain level of expectation the year after you win the Best Newcomer award in Edinburgh. The queue on a rainy Sunday is around the block and, as it's free and unticketed, some of us won't get in. Kearns’ follow-up displays his be-wigged and big-teethed alter ego's reaction to sudden comedic success. Now people want him to perform and to go to places such as Australia. This change has made him feel disconcerted so he has chosen to perform in the same room as last year in a desire to feel 'safe' once more.

He ponders the years of trying ‘loads of things, then I did this,' he says touching his wig: 'it worked. Now I'm stuck with it,' he notes, reading from Frankenstein to hit the message home about the monster he's created, regrets and now can't get rid of. Kearns' hapless stage persona sums up beautifully the often whirlwind reaction of the industry to an award win and the problems of that next show. Anticipation is certainly high and not everyone will get it: he notes that in the room there are people who are wondering why the others are laughing.

Indeed it's not simple comedy and Kearns is actually beautifully mournful at times. There's a touching poignancy as he ponders mortality observing the squeezed-out toothpaste tube in his toothless 86-year-old grandmother's bathroom cabinet and the old couple who used to frequent his local pub but disappeared, first the woman then the man, some time before it was turned into a trendy bar. Elsewhere he captures the feeling of wanting to crawl back into the cocoon of childhood, with a touching nostalgia for Paddington Bear, Wallace and Gromit and dungarees. A truly lovely piece of work.

Voodoo Rooms, 226 0000, until 23 Aug (not 13), 5.05pm, free.

John Kearns: Shtick

  • 4 stars

Yet another show from the winner of last year's Foster's Best Newcomer Award. It's very much same again. "Manages to make you laugh in entirely new ways." The Guardian, 2014.