John Hastings: Float Like A Butterfly, John Hastings Like A Bee | Edinburgh Fringe review by Stephanie Lim
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John Hastings: Float Like A Butterfly, John Hastings Like A Bee

Note: This review is from 2018

Edinburgh Fringe review by Stephanie Lim

The Pleasance Cellar is less of an arts venue than it is an underground sweat lodge for John Hastings to perform an hour-long purification ceremony in the guise of stand-up comedy. But the unforgiving heat is a small price to pay for a truly inspired show.   

While it’s hardly news that a Fringe black box is going to toast you like a breakfast bagel, Hastings is quick to address the issue and proceeds to offset any physical discomfort with the alleviating charm of a honed professional. 

As a resident compere of Late’n’Live, he’s no stranger to audience interaction and this serves him well as a brief, opening gambit. Although he could comfortably consume his entire time-slot forming impromptu bonds with relative strangers, Hastings is at his best when showcasing his carefully constructed, long form material. That’s not to say he shies from a beautifully succinct one-liner, but he most affectingly uses them to inform a lengthier narrative instead of proffering throwaway quips.

The crux of the hour concerns a grisly incident where Hastings was hit by a car while cycling in London; a story which invokes a multitude of tangents including Brexit, vegetarianism, and gun control - all topics he broaches with masterful aplomb. 

Engaging content aside, what strikes as most remarkable about Hastings is his distinct delivery. With the cadence of an evangelical preacher (without the righteous agenda), Hastings can fluctuate from dulcet meditations to bellowed tirades without breaking his stride.  

In a potentially polarising, while ultimately ballsy, assertion that he’s indifferent to public validation, Hastings can pre-empt a delayed response with isolating comments like, ‘I’ve alienated the audience. And that’s fine.’ Some may interpret this as confrontational but to others it compels nothing but admiration; this is an act who will work an innovative set he believes in rather than relying on a back catalogue of tried and tested material.

With a palpable quality that can only be described as moxie, John Hastings is not here for your approval even though it’s justly earned.

Review date: 4 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Stephanie Lim

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