Clearly there are two John Kearns. There’s a real-life man called John Kearns, and there’s “John Kearns”, the outrageous surreal character he plays onstage, with false buck teeth and an unconvincing monastic bald patch wig. Why? He never explains. But this is a way to take an audience into a comedy world unlike any other. He ambles on in apparently shambolic fashion, hesitant, lots of pauses (It’s a daring thing for a comic to do: pause – particularly at the start of an act.).This is comedy on the outer fringes, and it takes a while for a Bath audience to catch up with his unique style, as he ranges obsessively over seemingly banal, unrelated topics. The lighting in the betting shop. The way to use a paper bag: the way Mehmet the café owner does? Or the way Eric Morecambe does? The seeming chaos of his presentation, it becomes apparent by the end, is no such thing. It’s meticulously timed, and carefully structured to take you to a different space, with sideways perspectives on life that you weren’t previously aware of, and to wring out of this laughs that you would never have thought possible. Though this be madness, as the Bard might say, there’s considerable method in’t. Madness, or genius? I veer on the side of the latter.
John Christopher Wood