Only a few weeks ago, John Kearns made comedic history. ” replies the 27-year-old from Streatham, south London, still merrily pole-axed at this achievement. I knew that Frank Skinner [presenter of this year’s main award] had seen my show, so when he said 'I like this guy’, I went 'Oh s---! I then had time, after winning the newcomer, actually to spend a couple of hours a day writing.” Certainly, it was that first victory that allowed him, late last year, to chuck in his day job as a tour guide at the Houses of Parliament and concentrate full-time on achieving his dream of making a living from stand-up.
While doing so, he reveals that his forthcoming four-part series for Radio 4 (which he will perform as his stage persona) joins Hancock, Alan Partridge and The Office in exploring the comedy of boredom.
“In each episode,” he says, “I’ve looked at these moments in life when you’re not doing anything.
I think the way I look on stage, having something in my mouth and pressing down on my head – and that voice – it all kind of creates a flare for me to scuttle off across no-man’s land and get to the other side. “As people are laughing maybe at the ridiculousness of how I look, I’m perhaps slipping in a heartfelt piece.
There’s a lot of stuff that I say on stage looking the way I do that I could never get away with as I’m talking to you now.” Kearns talks passionately about his influences, which – aptly, given his character’s blend of absurdism and suburban angst – range from Russ Abbot and Vic and Bob to Tony Hancock, Ever Decreasing Circles and Only Fools and Horses.
Mike doesn’t call it the “world’s worst radio show,” for nothing.