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John Kearns: a supreme standup hidden behind bad teeth and a tonsure

The wig-wearing comic’s new show about humdrum heroism is his best yet. But as his act strives for knockout poignancy, does the goofy get-up help or hinder?

When John Kearns corpses, is he coming out of character? It happens on a few occasions during his current Soho theatre gig, and – even though I know the official line on Kearns’ act, which is “it’s not a character: it’s me” – these moments feel like a glimpse behind the curtain. For the uninitiated, Kearns is a double Edinburgh comedy award winner, the only act ever to win best newcomer and best show. He performs in party-shop false teeth and a tonsure wig and is frequently compared to Tony Hancock because his shtick is suburban loserdom and plangent existentialism, the minutiae of a humdrum life mined for flights of poetry and meek heroism.

Related: From Del Boy’s cap to Steve Martin’s arrow – what happened to the comedy trademark?

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