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S. J. Parris and Stephanie Merritt

Review < Back

John Kearns review – too much shtick, too little substance

Sunday 12th October 2014

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John Kearns has enjoyed a startlingly rapid rise to prominence: he won the Foster’s best newcomer award last year at the Edinburgh fringe and this year took home the main prize, the first comic to do so in consecutive years. Now he’s playing to capacity audiences at Soho theatre and seems disoriented by the sudden elevation – although that, of course, is all part of the shtick.

Kearns’s stage persona is a new take on an old character: the tragic clown, empty inside as he prances to make us laugh. In a cheap joke- shop wig and buck teeth, he frames the show as a critique of his art form, acknowledging that there will be those in the audience baffled as to why the person next to them is laughing. “You’re watching a man grappling with a joke that’s gone too far,” he says, in his distinctive nasal drone...

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