Don’t Worry They’re Here is the intriguing title as stand-up John Kearns goes on the road with dates including Brighton’s Komedia on March 7.
“It’s basically a lyric from A Little Night Music. The words are really ‘Send in the clowns. Don’t bother. They’re here.’ I enjoyed that reference but thought ‘Don’t bother’ in the title of a show might be easy pickings for a critic that doesn’t like the show, so I decided it should be ‘Don’t worry’ instead.
“But I was lucky that it did work. When you write an Edinburgh show, you have to submit the title in March, and I hadn’t written the show then, but I just liked the words and so I stuck with the title, and I went to Edinburgh with it last year, and it did alright. You just never know, though. You can’t write to an audience. You have got to write what you are feeling, what you are thinking. You have just got to be honest to yourself.
“I think the main theme of the show is that you just don’t know what is around the corner in life. I was reading this book and found out that Charles Darwin didn’t grow a beard until he was 53 – and yet all the images we have of him are of this man with a massive beard. It really amused me. Imagine when he was a young man… what would he have thought when he was 20 if people had shown him pictures of him with a massive beard and said that this was how everyone was going to remember him!
“And I suppose weirdly I took my inspiration from that. And there was also this racehorse that defied the odds and won this race – and then the minute after he crossed the line, he died. There was a huge outpouring of grief for this racehorse that had given its all. And I remember listening to that and thinking that life is a bit like that: we all try our best and then we cross the line and that’s that.
“It sounds like an odd inspiration for a comedy show, but I just found it quite an emotional story, and then I was thinking that we all give it our all and then that’s that… but for what? I don’t have any answers.
“I always think if you come along to one of my shows and leave with ten answers in your head, then I will have done my job. I am not like those comedians that stand on stage and have got all the answers. I haven’t got any answers. The point is that the answers change with every generation even if the questions stay the same.”
John has been doing comedy full time now for about four years, but he has been performing for about nine in all: “I did stand-up while I was still working. I was a tour guide at the Houses of Parliament and in the evenings I was gigging. And then in 2013 I took my first show to Edinburgh, and I was lucky enough to win best newcomer. I then had to make a decision whether I should continue to work or just go for it. I needed an extra day. I took all my leave just to go up to Edinburgh, but I needed an extra day which they wouldn’t give me, and I just took it anyway. I remember thinking ‘If it doesn’t work out, then I will go back to work and get sacked!’”
In the event, he went back and worked another couple of months before turning to comedy full time.