The Top Secret Comedy Club, Covent Garden, London, 28/07/2019.
John Hastings is a Canadian comic who’s lived over here for the past six and a half years, and now he’s leaving, which given the current political situation you can hardly blame him for, though that’s not actually the reason why. He’s not returning to his native Canada either, but to America, and sure, he’s aware of how fucked up that particular country is too but it appeals just because American’s are often so friendly and complimentary – or the elderly gentleman who complimented him upon an impressive fart was at least.
Hasting’s is an extremely amiable comedian who wins the audience over from the beginning, there’s a tiny amount of crowd work before he introduces himself and sets out his stall, explaining how he’s emigrating and the reason it’s not back to Canada is due to Trudeau being such a useless prime minister who not only lacks qualifications for the job (just like Boris, as Hasting wryly comments) but who has only done one thing in four years of power, that being legalising marijuana. And Hasting’s is “not a marijuana guy”, as he jokes that his use of such a phrase demonstrates.
This leads in to the main story of his set, and that’s how he met his girlfriend one New Years Eve after unwittingly devouring a sod load of brownies which had the added ingredient of mushrooms of the psychedelic variety, while his beau to be was extremely drunk but in denial about this. Hasting’s makes their accidental romance seem genuinely sweet even when being very honest about his poor sexual abilities that particular evening, yet unfortunately their love story’s also a complicated one as it’s been a long distance relationship the whole time, and an open relationship which neither of them has acted upon, made all the more difficult by his girlfriend’s inability to get a visa, that is until their two way too expensive lawyers suggest marriage might be the answer to their prayers.
As well as his relationship he also talks a lot about his extended family, his relationship with not only his parents but his grandfather, and an aunt and uncle which involves the best funeral anecdote I’ve yet heard. Admittedly that’s not a field I’ve seen many comedians joke about but any comedian who tries to better it will definitely have their work cut out for them. He’s also got some very strong material about how he looks like a racist, and his friend who is only three foot two inches tall is involved in a tale which made me laugh hard as well. Throughout the set Hastings does a little crowd work every so often, mostly interacting with a Swiss Gentleman in the front row, which only served to make the set even more enjoyable.
This was a preview / work in progress so though we’re close to the Edinburgh Festival beginning it’s not quite the finished piece. And right now it’s a very likeable and very funny show which just needs a bit tightening up, the middle section is great but a couple of punchier stories would lead to it being the four star show (and maybe more) that I have no doubt Hastings is capable of. As it is it’s not quite an essential hour of comedy, but it’s bloody close, a charming and often hilarious hour which I’m sure many, many people will enjoy a great deal.
John Hastings is performing 10 John Hastings I Hate About You at the Edinburgh Festival at Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 2, from August 1st – 25th at 9.30pm, and further information and tickets can be found here.
John’s Official Site.