There is a pleasant buzz in the largest Free Fringe venue, the Three Sisters. The audience relaxes, pint in hand and immediately warms to the genuinely friendly John Hastings. I appreciate that he greets everyone before the show begins, as everyone is waiting outside. His enthusiasm initially startles some of the audience members, who respond to his questions with stereotypically British grunts, although it pays off as within two minutes everyone is firmly on side. Hastings moved to London in 2012 and since then has been featured on BBC Radio 4 and BBC.com as a comedy correspondent amongst other things. He has also been named as “one to watch” by the Comedy Network, a label which he surely deserves.
There is a lot of improvised comedy at the fringe of dubious quality but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this show.
The show’s premise- improvisation based on a subject chosen by a fellow comedian- seems like a recipe for an awkward hour and it would be if Hastings wasn’t so quick witted. As for the titular podcast, this is simply that the show is to be recorded and uploaded online. The show’s naff title doesn’t do it justice.
Today’s topic is announced- hockey- and a wave of shrugs fills the room. Nobody is especially interested in hearing about ice hockey or the reasons why it is the best sport and so instead it is used as a loose starting point. The Canadian comic fires off anecdote after anecdote, inviting the audience to join in so that it feels as though we’re in the pub with an old friend. In the end, the majority of the show is spent in conversation.
For the most part the humour fits perfectly with the relaxed mood of the venue. Hastings expertly covers a variety of subjects; including sex, Britain and of course hockey whilst juggling conversations with the audience. Whilst not every joke receives a laugh, the ones that do have people cackling away. At one point I start choking a little as I’ve (stupidly) tried to stifle a giggle.
There is a lot of improvised comedy at the fringe of dubious quality but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by this show. Hastings has a brilliant comedy mind and Anything Can Be a Podcast! demonstrates this perfectly.