Having picked up the top comedy award at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Londoner John Kearns is now set to bring his show Shtick, an hour of surrealist stand-up, to the Soho Theatre.
Kearns previously won the best newcomer prize and is the first comedian to win both awards in Edinburgh. Moreover, he has accomplished this feat in consecutive years.
He grew up in Tooting, and until last year worked as a tour guide in the Houses of Parliament. It’s a job he talks about with affection during Shtick, though it’s difficult to imagine him doing it now without the trademark monk wig and false teeth he dons on stage.
But then, he has something of a specialty in conjuring incongruous pairings. After seeing Shtick, it may seem normal to expect kids' TV penguin Pingu to commentate on the football, or to think of lucozade as an appropriate mixer for Tia Maria. (There is plenty of marmalade on offer for fans of Paddington Bear too).
Then there are jokes which mislead in their childlike charm — such as one about a dog driving a train. And yet, with absurdist cunning, the logic it follows proves to be perfect.
However, he is not reliant on dressing-up, or even his comedy, in affecting his stage presence. He varies the pace of the show and isn't afraid to initiate a beat of silence, or row back from the stand-up for an amiable chat about how his life has changed since winning that first award. (And after this second win he'll need to add to these reflective interludes).
In less skilled hands all this could be a bit awkward, but with John Kearns an audience can watch him prowl the stage and enjoy those moments of anticipation: 'What's he going to do now?'
John Kearns: Shtick is on at the Soho Theatre, 24 September - 18 October, Monday to Thursday at 7:15. Tickets cost £12.50 (with £10 concessions).