John Hastings: The Times They Are A John Hastings | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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John Hastings: The Times They Are A John Hastings

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Straight-up stand-up done like it should be, John Hastings’ latest hour comes with no more significant message or theme beyond: ‘Here are the times I had run-ins with the cops.’

Yet he makes the yarns sparkle with hilarious metaphors, sharp punchlines and wry tags, delivered with real vim. He admits there’s some truth in the stereotype of the polite Canadian – about which he has a brilliant theory – but polite does not mean dispassionate and he flings himself into the animated storytelling with an energy that defies the sweatbox heat of this stifling Edinburgh cellar.

Self-effacing is another national stereotype, and he has that in buckets, with the fact he has the look of a white supremacist proving an almost bottomless well of self-deprecating lines. It’s one of several running jokes (including some improvised ragging on a certain reviewer in the audience) and callbacks which thread through the anecdotes.

Quick-witted Hastings has a strong sense of who he is, an older millennial able to see the insanity in any situation, whether it’s his divorce, anxiety, or his new life in Los Angeles, which provides a deep vein of peculiarities.

He’s been a magnet for stories over his 38 years, too, from ending up in the passenger seat with a very drunk driver at the wheel to hitting a pig in his own car. Some are slightly laddish tales of derring-do, but he’s always got perspective with a good balance of the dumb and the intelligent, the latter manifesting itself in the smart turns of phrase that define his gags.

The show flows fast and seamlessly. The heat means you can see the effort he puts into the performance as the sweat drips off him. The effort that goes into the hilarious writing is hidden much deeper, but working just as hard. 

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Review date: 13 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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