A case could be made that John Hastings' comedy is closer to theatre than standup. While most of his peers will read the mood of a room and tailor their delivery accordingly, establishing a dialogue between comedian and audience, he trades in fixed monologues. Any sense of the improvisation and jeopardy that can make the art form seem so dynamic is absent from this curiously stylised hour.
The entertainer likes to tell us how we have responded to his material, his dictations usually having little basis in reality and instead reflecting how he wishes to be perceived. We're repeatedly assured he can sense our shock, judgement, embarrassment, shame and disgust when none of these emotions are apparent in anyone present. To have to sit bored while he earnestly proclaims his challenging and transgressive power feels like an endurance test at times.
It could well be the case that Hastings isn't a comfortable performer and so hides behind a rigid script. This would be forgiveable were it not for an overbearing, theatrical performance style which oversells his routines and command of the English language to the point that he comes across as arrogant. If he could cut down on the tedious posturing, this show would have much to recommend it. As it stands, this is a barely tolerable assault on a series of straw men whom he identifies as being in the room tonight.