UTG @ Melbourne International Comedy Festival: John Kearns – ‘Shtick’

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Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Comic: John Kearns
Show: Shtick
Venue: The Acacia Room at the Victoria Hotel

With unprecedented back-to-back ‘Best Newcomer’ and ‘Best Comedy Show’ awards from Edinburgh, it’s fair to say that UK comic John Kearns comes to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival under the weight of great expectations. Fortunately for Kearns, and the Melbourne crowds, he is more than ready to live up to them.

A supremely gifted comic who thrives in the realms of the absurd, Kearns had the crowd in stitches from the moment he took the stage, holding the room hostage with his idiosyncratic style. Adorned in a wig, false teeth and over-sized spectacles, Kearns utilized a variety of comedic approaches in a fast-paced, energetic and surprisingly poignant hour of comedic shenanigans.

Ostensibly an hour-long critique of itself, Shtick opens with a series of quips on the nature of comedy, with Kearns using real-life reviews of his previous shows to pose a warning to the folk unfamiliar with his style, exclaiming that “You’re watching a man grappling with a joke that’s gone too far” before launching into an hour of unpredictable comedy that proved there is much, much further for the joke to go.

With his distinct nasal accent, cheap costume, acerbic wit and fondness for physical comedy, Kearns’ absurd delivery style proved a delight to behold as he covered topics as diverse as the contents of old ladies’ bathroom cabinets, working as a tour guide at the Houses of Parliament, prison life, fear of telescopes and the gradual gentrification of the British pub – and somehow spun them all into a disarmingly honest evaluation of his ability to deal with his own success and the change it represents for his life.

Highlighted by a particularly tender anecdote about an elderly couple that used to be regulars at his local pub, which he then parlayed into a brilliant audience-participation skit, Shtick is home to some truly brilliant displays of wordplay, satire, absurdity, poetry, crowd-work and observational comedy, and it comes highly recommended.

Shtick is a one-of-a-kind show by a once-in-a-generation comedic talent who at just 27 years of age appears to only just be grasping the breadth of his abilities. Go and see it. Seriously.


‘Shtick’ is on now at The Acacia Room at the Victoria Hotel. Click here for dates and ticket details.

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