We would like to moot the installation of John Hegley as Official National Treasure, pronto. His hangdog demeanour, poems and songs not only cover Englishness as a topic but contain a very English self-deprecation and undercutting punchlines. If you ever thought poets were boring, an hour in his company will prove you wrong.
In the multicoloured fin de siècle surroundings of Greenwich Comedy Festival's Spiegel Tent, Hegley kicks off with a few songs which he masterminds into singalongs - a feat in itself to secure audience participation within the first ten minutes of a show and yet there we are, glasses wearers vs contact lens wearers vs the rest of us, la-la-la-ing about a Luton bungalow and doing an increasingly ludicrous call and response.
This is a mix of Hegley's Edinburgh show, The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet, loosely based around his French ancestry and sense of belonging (the titular Mr Robinet is the character in a book, who we learn is being romantically pursued by a neighbour and using his dog to avoid her) and more general poetry and songs from his repertoire. Some are serious and beautiful, others are wholly designed for laughs, and others are a combination of delicate wordsmithing and giggles.
The overall tone of the set is warm and inviting and we leave with a glow in our bellies that has (almost) nothing to do with the Greenwich Meantime beer on sale throughout the site. It seems criminal that this self-effacing poet isn't as widely revered as Stephen Fry; we can only leave you with our recommendation that you catch him as soon as possible and help us rectify this shocking oversight.
The Greenwich Comedy Festival continues until 12th September, tickets £14-£25. See their website for more details. John Hegley is touring the Adventures of Monsieur Robinet; also keep an eye on our literary listings for where he'll next pop up around London.