John Hastings – Edinburgh Festival review

Canadian stand-up John Hastings manages to hold the gaze of a room full of very, very hot people, writes Paul Fleckney

John_Hastings1A downbeat stand-up performing in a room that’s hotter than the sun doesn’t exactly sound like super mental funtimes. This is a free show, too, so walkouts are expected, but John Hastings proves a strong enough comic to keep ’em in.

A newcomer to the UK, and a relative newcomer to stand-up, the 27-year-old Canadian is following in the flightpaths of some truly outstanding comedians who have found success in the UK. Glenn Wool, Pete Johansson, Phil Nichol, Craig Campbell and Mike Wilmot are among the Canadian comics who have set a high bar for the next generation, which includes Hastings, Nick Beaton and Bobby Mair. No pressure fellas.

Except, Hastings should be used to pressure, given his family is one of the most insanely successful families you could hear of. He seems a little freaked out by it and doesn’t have a hint of entitlement. The opposite, if anything. This is surely an area that is potentially rich for comedy, as we may find in the coming years.

Right now, Hastings, with piercing eyes and blond hair, is a compelling, assured presence on stage and interesting to listen to, even though his jokes are mainly anecdotes that tread already worn paths, such as public transport, the shiftiness of UK towns (we know), and drinking. However there is some enjoyably imaginative imagery, such as a lovely gag about a condom suit and a piece on the formation of the pyramids. So a broader palette may well be forthcoming.

Of the comics I mentioned above, he most closely resembles Glenn Wool in mannerism and outlook, if without the overt hedonism, and his calm intensity also reminds me of Andrew Maxwell. So pick a cool day and go check out a comic with a lot of promise.

3 stars

John Hastings – UnRelentless is on at 4.15pm at the City Café
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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