Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Despite being a recent Edinburgh Comedy Award-winner, John Kearns still feels a need to qualify expectations, to begin by recalling the support slot he played for Russell Kane in Kent last year, featuring 800 people staring at him in oppressive silence.
Heroes @ Monkey Barrel (Venue 515)
An acquired taste, with his comic false teeth and tonsure wig, he’s deliberately chosen to be odd, on the defensive, an awkward customer battling to self-scan a Creme Egg in the supermarket.
Yet his is only a mildly heightened take on the world.
Don’t Worry They’re Here is a relatable monologue, a common man’s wistful musing on the passing of time, with melancholic touches but ultimately a philosophical bent that takes its small pleasures where it may.
Placing a bet at the bookies, the incremental layering of detail is delightful as Kearns’ elation turns to dumbfoundedness, the pained look on his face as he struggles to comprehend life’s ironic cruelties hilarious in the act out.
Taking solace in his local café, conversations with the owner and his familiar routines, the narrative arcs gradually as he’s lifted from ennui into pursuing a dream, the tiny twists and turns skewing eccentrically as he arrives at acceptance.
Towards the end, his persona almost drops as he relates saying goodbye to a friend in Australia.
Though the surest glimpse yet into Kearns’ real life, his phrasing has always been that of the everyday conversational, albeit timed and tweaked with latent precision into a drolly amusing script with eruptions into the roaringly funny.
Alive in the room, ad-libbing to the audience’s reaction, Kearns is hugely impressive. Pacing the hour capably, he endears with the knowing acknowledgement that this playful weirdness is how he makes his living.
Until 27 August. Today 5pm.