Punchline is Edinburgh’s niche and unique night of live comedy. Housed in the glorious Usher Hall and providing the limelight for the most renowned and upcoming comedians, it really is a glamorous glimpse of the famous Edinburgh Festival. The next show will be on March 8th, and will be you, the comedy fans of Britain, your chance to see the biggest stars of last year’s Fringe, but more importantly, the even BIGGER stars of next year’s fringe. As the preparation for Punchline goes on, Film News reporter Susan Ford had the privilege to speak to one of the stars of the night John Hastings.

Hello John Hastings, how are you?
I am really well. I just showered and I am doing an interview in a towel. What could be better! (I’m just going to point out that John emailed this interview to us and I’m not in the room with him, that would be really weird! – SF)

How excited are you about playing Punchline?
I am downright giddy about doing this show. It is the largest venue I have ever played in in the best town for stand up in the world, in my personal opinion, and I get to share the stage with 3 other tremendous acts. What would be better?

Have you played gigs in Edinburgh outside of the Edinburgh Festival before, and have you seen how beautiful the Usher Hall is yet?
Yes, I have played the Stand. I find Edinburgh to be a good place for stand up. The audience is smart but up for stupid jokes. They know how to act as an audience, which is a tough thing to find. I have never been inside Usher Hall and I am cool with it. I like to be surprised by the room when I walk onstage.

Edinburgh is a very different place outside of the festival; what are you expecting from your Punchline audience?
Laughter is what I hope for. All I expect is clapping as I walk onstage and people ready to laugh (God, that sounds lame, but it truly is the God's honest truth. I always think that I should be knee-slapping hilarious in interviews and yet here I have chosen insight, hopefully you are all okay with it)

How does it feel to be the only non-Brit on the line-up?
It feels good. That being said, I am pale, I drink and I like to complain so my passport may say Canada but I am quickly becoming British.

How much does your Canadian background contribute to the show?
Not that much as a Canadian but a lot of the jokes come from the perspective of an outsider bringing back information so I guess I am about to contradict myself and say it contributes a lot.

You have recently moved to London, how do you think performing in the UK differs to Canada?
UK audiences KNOW comedy. You have to be you. What I mean is in North America you can be a type of comedian, for example you can be a comedian in the style of Chris Rock. In the UK you have to be you; the jokes must address the person the audience sees before them, which is a challenge, but also keeps you really really honest which is oh so good.

Also on the Punchline bill are Pappy’s, Charlie Baker and David Trent, what are your opinions on the fellow acts?
They are super great. I have never met Dave but his YouTube videos I just watched got me in a real way. I think Charlie as a host is amazing - he gets the audience ready for anything and everything while also presenting his unique jokes, and he knows how to dance so what is there not to love? As for Pappy's, I have to confess I usually get on my high horse about sketch comedy and start spouting that Canadians (Lorne Michaels, Kids in the Hall, SCTV and the Sketchersons) are genetically the best sketch performers. Then I saw Pappy's at the festival this year and OH BOY did I get my opinion changed. They are mainstream but alternative, smart but silly. Basically they are what you are looking for in terms of sketch comedy.

Rosalind Romer, the producer of Punchline described you as ‘having a unique spark’, how would define your comedy in your own words?
I have to be honest because I hate describing myself because I am afraid that I am going to come off like an egomaniac and the Edinburgh crowd will show up to Punchline with knives and pitchforks. So I would describe my comedy as the honest stories of the really stupid stuff I have witnessed or instigated.

Just to finish, can you please sell your set in 5 words?
Stories, breathing, shouting, and a bit too much honesty because I always use peoples real names. That was FAR too many words. I am sorry. This apology is making it worse.

For more information on the comedians, the show, and how to get tickets, visit the website www.punchline-comedy.com