John Hegley: Can I Come Down Now, Dad? The Rocket, London, 1992
John Hegley: Letters To An Earwig: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2007
John Hegley: Beyond Our Kennel: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2008
John Hegley: The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2009
Aaarrrggghhh!!! It’s The Bollock Factor: The Malcolm Hardee Awards Show: Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh, 2009
John Hegley: Morning Wordship: Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2010
Arnold Brown’s 80th Birthday Bash: The Comedy Store, London, 2016
John Hegley: Peace, Love and Potatoes: Assembly Checkpoint, Edinburgh, 2017
John Hegley: New and Selected: Assembly George Square Studios, Edinburgh, 2018
John Hegley’s Biscuit of Destiny: Summerhall, Edinburgh, 2022
A Fringe veteran who I have seen many times, John Hegley is an English performance poet, comedian, musician and songwriter. Hegley was one of the first comedy acts I ever saw in London and I memorably remember watching a brilliant disabled theatre group appear on stage before he did. Hegley then read a riveting collection of poems from his book Can I Come Down Now, Dad? whose subjects included Luton and string, dogs and logs, trains and Roman remains.
I then didn’t see him until 2007 at the Edinburgh Fringe where he read from his new book Lettrs To An Earwig and provided a jugular lunchtime serving of song, poetry and insect life. There was more of the same in 2008 where his dog was the main subject in Beyond Our Kennel. In 2009, he explored The Adventures of Monsieur Robinet which featured tales of a Frenchman with a dog called Chirac. Starting with a picture painted by his father in France years ago, he worked his way through a series of photographs and sketches, sprinkling the act with key words and phrases that the audience had to respond to at each hearing. In the same year, he also guested at The Malcolm Hardee Awards Show. 2010’s offering, Morning Wordship ended up with me and a lots of audience glasses wearers dancing on stage to one of Hegley’s catchy songs. More memorable poems featured as part of the tribute to Scottish comedian Arnold Brown at his 80th Birthday Bash at The Comedy Store in 2016 and Hegley’s show Peace, Love and Potatoes in Edinburgh for 2017 featured Keats, Daleks, soot, belief, osmosis and autobiographical poems.
Hegley’s shows are always very intelligent, popular, clever and very amusing with lots of audience participation and long may the Edinburgh Fringe Festival stalwart remain for years to come.
Hegley: the poet, comic, singer, songwriter and glasses-wearer returned to the Edinburgh Fringe as he has done most years in August 2018. Of course, I was in attendance as he delivered a greatest hits body of work. New and Selected is a new compilation showing the breadth of Hegley’s appeal, with seriously funny, cleverly comic poems on everything from family, love, art, the sea and France to gods, dads, dogs, carrots, taxidermy, potatoes and spectacles.
Hegley is like a master craftsman loving delivering each line as though he was constructing a work of art. He is like a teacher dividing sections of the audience to sing each section of his catchy songs (such as the extremely infectious Luton Bungalow) playing along with the ones having trouble singing but passionately helping them to get the lyrics right. After seeing one of the best shows at the Fringe, I bought the accompanying book and met the great man where we exchanged glasses for a very funny photograph and a wonderful memory of this outstanding writer and performer.
The comedian and poet returned to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 with his new show John Hegley’s Biscuit of Destiny. Featuring poetry from his book A Scarcity of Biscuit: Pieces drawn largely from the letters, life and laughter of John Keats, Hegley was inspired with his choice of comic song and verse intelligently delivering big laughs to the afternoon audience.
Always thoroughly entertaining, if Hegley plays the Fringe or elsewhere every year, I will always plan to see him.