John Kearns @ Monkey Barrel

Double Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Kearns returns to the Fringe with a masterclass in absurdity

Review by Thomas Hamill | 22 Aug 2019
  • John Kearns @ Monkey Barrel

With his fake teeth and Friar Tuck wig, John Kearns is back at the Edinburgh Fringe with an hour that has the qualities of a waking dream. His character itself is perfectly pitched, with a personality reminiscent of a pub-philosopher standing at the end of the bar with the ability to ramble well past last orders. He performs it with great fidelity, juxtaposed with the obviously fake nature of his appearance which he draws attention to on occasion. As he puts a hand on the wig to makes sure it’s still rested on his head, it reminds you of the real John Kearns underneath the persona. Similarly, the content of the show is surreal on the surface, but it’s digging at something much more existential. 

The construction of the hour is extremely impressive. Kearns has an amazing ability to bring you down his nonsense wormhole, one where you’re never sure where you’re going to pop out next. Constantly you’re spinning and spinning with incomprehensible speed all whilst giddy with laughter; one minute you’re in his flat looking out the window and the next you’re way up in the stratosphere. He has the ability to use time like a prop in a piece of absurdist theatre. It’s like being in a Federico Fellini dream sequence; things keep happening and transitioning from one surreal thing to the next, and somehow the logic of it all is perfectly acceptable.

Kearns’ feat of making the surreal seem so accessible is terrifyingly brilliant, in an hour of magnificent bafflement.

John Kearns: Double Take and Fade AwayMonkey Barrel Comedy (Monkey Barrel 3), until 24 Aug, 4.45pm, £9/PWYW