JOHN Kearns will not look like the man on the stairs in the picture above when he performs his stand-up show Don't Worry They're Here at The Basement, City Screen, York, on Sunday evening.

Instead, the idiosyncratic south Londoner will pull on his monk wig and stick in his oversized false teeth, adopting his stage persona previously seen at the Monkey Barrel at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer, later on a sold-out run at London's Soho Theatre and now on his debut regional tour of this one-man show, brought to York by Al Greaves' Burning Duck Comedy Club.

On the road from January 28 to May 27, Kearns's monologue contemplates how the common man might deal with day-to-day to day struggles in a small world, the comedian responding in an uncommon and unusual way as he highlights the fragility and absurdities of life.

Rooted in his seemingly mundane conversations with his local café owner and a story about a bet he placed at the bookies, Kearns leaps from the minutiae of British culture into an exploration of universal fears and human emotions as he travels from a massage parlour to a supermarket check-out and then to a horse-racing track.

As he returns to York this weekend, Kearns says: "I've known the Burning Duck's Al Greaves for a few years. The last time I was in York I did a gig at this old working men's club [The Crescent in The Crescent], with 100 blokes playing dominoes in one room, and I remember there were some Rastafarian guys out front. The domino players were out in force and the noise was amazing. It was incredible to watch these men in their 80s really going for it. That was when I was previewing this show in June last year."

He now brings the full version, looking to build on his Fringe success that brought him the Best Newcomer prize in the Edinburgh Comedy Awards in 2014 for his debut show Sight Gags For Perverts (so named after a review for Stanley Kubrick's 1964 film Dr Strangelove) and the Best Show award the next year for Schtick.

"On stage I have the persona of...Christ knows what I am! It's an exaggerated version of myself where I wear the wig and false teeth," says Kearns, who remains wary of success. "I'd gone from not being paid for doing to do stand-up to winning two awards, with people asking questions when I'd hardly thought of the answers, so I took a break from presenting live shows at Edinburgh" he says.

York Press:

John Kearns on stage

"I did a series on BBC Radio 4 and I was in the much loved but gone-after-one-series Top Coppers, which stopped after BBC3 went online. I was still gigging and did a Christmas show, which involved recording my family's Christmas dinner without telling them!

"I had to listen to five hours of these recordings, and they were the dullest, teeth-pulling, most boring recordings because there's no drama. It's dire stuff and the joke was there was nothing there, just very mundane stuff, but I love all that, and that's why my parents loved it, like when my Nan discussed disappearing bus routes."

After a year and half off from circuit, Kearns returned with his third Fringe show, keen to end "being on your own, going on about trees and the regularity of posts". "You do get inside your head, so I began thinking about the mundanity as a starting point, and that roots any surrealism you might want to do, like the joy of spinning a paper bag shut," he says.

"When you hear the word 'mundanity', you think of boredom, but that's where stuff comes from, and I remember someone saying how creativity can come from boredom. I'm much more interested in avoiding the non-mundane. There's an Evelyn Waugh quote where he says 'the cliche is avoiding when you feel the cliche happening'. I've always loved being two steps ahead of the cliche. That's the good stuff; that where surrealism comes in, where you step into the unknown.

"I don't ever feel trapped by truth. I'll make something up, if necessary. As long as you have conviction, you can take the audience along with you and they will trust you.

"I may look off-putting in my wig and false teeth, but though it might look like a bad business decision, I reward people who trust themselves to take a punt."

His show is autobiographical, but refracted through his more extreme characterisation. "There's an ambiguity to what I am and what I am on stage, and I like to play with that ambiguity, so that's why the wig and the false teeth are still there," says Kearns. "It's become traditional, it's silly, but I try not to think about it too much. It is what it is. It's just stupid, which then allows me to make some serious points, but if you look stupid, they'll call it 'comedy'."

Burning Duck Comedy Club presents John Kearns in Don't Worry, They're Here at The Basement, City Screen, York, Sunday, 6.30pm. Tickets: £10 at or £12 on the door.