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Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
John Hegley's Packed Lunch
A full meal of fig-rolls and fog rolls in from the sea. All sandwiches with crusts retained. Nice clicky-shut box. Warning: includes table dancing
All the best comics have an instinct for the rhythm of language, yet very few tap that gift and actually write any poetry. But then anyone who ever attempted it will be held up against John Hegley, and inevitably suffer by comparison.
The perennial festival favourite is back again, this time in a relaxed lunchtime slot that suits his underplayed style remarkably well. He kicks off with some physical comedy, playfully assembling the small table on which he rests his sheath of notes - a display of silliness that culminates in possibly the best opening line of the festival.
After which, he announces with ill-deserved modesty: "We've had the fun - now for the poetry."
Much of what ensues is what the fans have come to expect - clever, funny, beautifully rhythmic songs about dogs, glasses, and his latest obsession - potatoes.
But he casts his sharp eye much further than that, easily converting, for example a football report about his beloved Luton into verse, or penning a more reflective piece about an encounter with a widow, a tale still rife with witty twists.
A natural cadence pervades everything he says - right down to readers' feedback about his contribution to a 'poetry in hospitals' scheme that he reads out with typically beat-perfect style.
Most memorably, he engages in a dialogue with his sack-made ventriloquist's dummy, Herman Hessian. Hegley doesn't actually possess any of the ventriloquist's skills, but that only adds to the hilarity of this bizarre section.
This - and a deliberately oddball set-piece finale - get their laughs quite broadly, but Hegley's trump card remains his stunning use of the English language.
The discipline of poetry has forced him to be economic with his words, hitting every punchline as efficiently as possible and with perfect timing. There's not a comic around who couldn't learn something about delivery from Hegley. As he would say: "Well done, speccy."
Totally agree, although I would always give John 5 stars. John's show really makes you feel part of something special that only you and 30-40 other people know about. I always end up being involved in the show (as a fellow speccy) but unlike other shows this feels instantly pleasurable. I would recommend a trip to see John for a nice relaxed inoffensive lunchtime dip into culture and comedy.
Loved this performance. Had seen John on TV, but this was the first time live and he exceeded my expectations. Thanks for a great show, got my fringe trip off to a great start