Comedy review: John Hegley, The Stand, Glasgow

From a moving meditation on John Keats to hailing hamsters in hip hop style, John Hegley’s Glasgow show ping-ponged pleasingly between the sublime and the ridiculous, writes Jay Richardson

John Hegley PIC: Shutterstock

John Hegley: Hegley’s Hop Scotch, The Stand, Glasgow ***

Postponed by Covid, shifting from the Tron Theatre to the smaller Stand comedy club only enhanced the lo-fi intimacy of John Hegley’s latest hour. Screen illustrations were eschewed for photocopies stuck to an upright ironing board, squintable enhancements of his gently eccentric but wildly varied view of the world.

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In asides, the poet-comic spoke warmly of his daughter’s contributions to this show, but it was the flavour of his French lineage that lingered. The letters he received as a young boy from his Gallic grandmother, glamorous in her mythology, are now lost, yet he re-conjured them for us through her thrillingly forceful but blunt advice to him as a lovelorn adolescent.

Then there was his claim to be a descendent of the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau, captured through the prism of his amorous intentions, his pretensions about his forebear bested by his belle’s more illustrious female counterpart to his hero.

As ever with Hegley though, any hint of the exotic was grounded in the down-to-earth. His brief flirtation with wearing women’s underwear became just another element of his support of Luton Town, the discursive flights of his internal fancy mired in the unshakeable superstition of football fans.

There was a moving meditation on John Keats’ devotion to his younger sister, Hegley’s admiration of the man eclipsing that of him as a great poet. But elsewhere, the Bedfordshire bard reveled in the flip and glib, hailing hamsters in hip hop style, rocking out with a feigned, pained intensity on his mandolin.

Hop Scotch is an apt title for a show that wanders all over place and time, but Hegley is never less than engaging, his carefully turned wit delightfully conveying the joy, ache and desire of messy, irrepressible emotion.

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