John Tothill

John Tothill

Teacher and comedian John Tothill won 2Northdown’s New Act Competition in 2022 and made his Edinburgh debut the following year with The Last Living Libertine
Read More

John Tothill: The Last Living Libertine

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Easily among the most exciting Fringe debutants of this year, John Tothill arrives with a beautifully sculpted, fully-formed stage persona in which every unusual element seems to sing harmoniously.

Slim and bespectacled with floppy hair and open countenance, you can easily believe he’s a primary-school teacher (his actual day job) but for the leopard-print blouse and an almost poisonous sweetness that runs through his whole show. He gets us onside early, delighted to let his hair down among an audience where, for the first time, ‘we’re all conventionally attractive’.

His hour, he promises, will comprise ‘a dissertation on the changing nature of pleasure-seeking in the United Kingdom’ with special reference to the place of acid-house techno and its relationship to the Catholic church. But that’s only if he can stop himself from being distracted by the delights immediately available in the room. ‘Can we have this man removed?’ he calls. ‘Because I’m falling in love with him.’

Tothill spent the first eight years of his life exclusively playing the clarinet, an early path which has somehow given him a formidable radar for pleasure, as he rhapsodises about the camp and horny qualities of the Catholic Penitential Act prayer.

In his classroom as well, he sees a Hobbesian state of nature play out among his charges, leading inexorably to our current puritanism and meal prep culture (preparing a week's worth of pre-portioned meals in advance). It’s a regrettable social shift that Tothill traces back to Oliver Cromwell. ‘Pleasure has been placed in a glass cage. Do we see this? Are we cooking with this notion?’ Not only is every line a killer, but this is clearly a comic prepared to look a little deeper than usual, and take his audience with him.

His more down-to-earth material on dating and pornography works just as well, and offers conventional relief from the history lessons, although it’s all tied together thematically in quite an intricate way, and he offers examples of the way that the pleasure-seeking impulse is stifled and misdirected.

There’s so much here to enjoy, and the printed word is not going to capture the least of his effervescent presence or the  sheer pleasure of being in his company, so catch him while you can.

Read More

Published: 13 Aug 2023

Past Shows


We do not currently hold contact details for John Tothill's agent. If you are a comic or agent wanting your details to appear here, for a one-off fee of £59, email

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.