John Kearns: Shtick @ The Voodoo Rooms
"You are looking at a man making a living," says 2013's winner of the best newcomer award. From underneath his monk wig and false dentures it is difficult to know if we should accept this at face value or if John Kearns, through surrealist cunning, is allowing us to ponder a comedian's value to society.
If you want to hear those questions they are there, but Kearns also asks the audience to imagine Pingu commentating on the football and rescues our ideals of Paddington Bear. As we don't know how the bear's latest incarnation will soon fare in cinemas this is a pre-emptive service for which Kearns deserves unambiguous praise. If last year's Sight Gags for Perverts touched on the neediness of being able to only imagine life as a full-time comedian, Shtick is loosely about now being that comedian. It's a difficult second album indeed – describing success is a harder nut to crack.
His performing style protects him more than other comics and he is not at all dependent on the dips and swerves of an audience mood. He slowly paces, initiating and owning any pauses. In less skilled hands these gaps would be awkward but here it is a time for anticipation, for the audience to ask, 'What's he going to do next?'
Some will ask if this is all truly absurdist or if Kearns is just a worthy fake? To answer this, his Paddington references are again helpful. They are a model of good research and check-out. Surely that's enough to alleviate any doubts. The real thing.