Review: John Kearns - Don't Worry They're Here

Thuy On

An uneven exploration of suburban joys, stresses and melancholia, delivered aggressively, without tonal shading.
Review: John Kearns - Don't Worry They're Here

With his false teeth and ill-fitting tonsure wig, English comedian John Kearns already looks funny, but is he actually laughter-worthy? That depends on your personal taste for delivery style.

Kearns has a big, loud voice. His on-stage presence is abrasive and a bit intimidating, particularly when placed in a small room. His voice too, maintains the same pitch throughout his show. He seems to speak IN CAPITAL LETTERS for the entire one hour duration and there are no quiet moments, no shading that could compensate for a spittle-worthy performance.  The man needs no microphone. He projects far too well.


The show itself is desultory and bounces around with different topics that amuse or irritate Kearns. It begins and ends with a horse-racing flutter (that ends in tragedy) and in between, ranges widely. A lot of the time is spent in his friend’s café, where he hangs out a fair bit, and has fun with the simple things in life, like mastering the skill of spinning shut a paper bag. Other joyful activities include travelling under bridges and walking backwards; while getting a massage and having a personal trainer rate high on the stressful scale. There is a good bit about the difficulty of scanning tiny chocolate crème eggs at the supermarket. Later, in a dream about being a sweets shop purveyor Kearns gets to elaborate a bit further on the art of selling sugary treats.

The material can best be described as suburban joys, stresses and melancholia. The tone is uneven; not every joke work and some fall flat, particularly when he made an English-specific reference that eluded many in the audience.

Kearns can be a bit hard to understand because of the false teeth and the yelling but if you like bombastic, aggressive comedy, he is your man. Those who prefer a softer approach should look elsewhere.


John Kearns - Don't Worry They're Here
Melbourne Town Hall
Until 22 April

Melbourne International Comedy Festival
28 March - 22 April 2018

What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Thuy On is a freelance literary journalist and critic and the books editor of The Big Issue.