If there’s one thing that comedians across the globe can agree on, it’s that “where do you get your ideas from?” is the world’s worst, most widely-asked interview question. Something along those lines springs awkwardly to mind fairly regularly during John-Luke Roberts’ new offering, though, as you’d love to take a good poke around his show-producing mind palace. Or perhaps not: that might be a maze from which no mortal man can ever escape.
Co-founder of the anarchic Alternative Comedy Memorial Society, Roberts has made a foray into more accessible territory here, although the central conceit is that the moustachioed comic hosts the whole show as a certain 14th century poet. Thankfully this is a lot less pretentious than it sounds, as embodying this particular poet allows you to magnificently mangle the English language without any of that laughing-at-foreigners business.
As he admits, it’s basically a highbrow version of the fake French policeman from the old sitcom Allo Allo, but with an impressive commitment to those archaic vowel sounds, even during the ad-libs.
Elsewhere there are regular moments of sublime prop-based silliness, notably a running beard gag that’s probably a profound musing on mortality too, the return of last year’s death-foreseeing vampire (“You… will run with scissors!”), and a marvellous sequence involving his chosen offstage stooge, a tiny globe and a desperate bid for significance.
That sets up the big finish, and if you see a better bit of audience participation at this year’s fringe than this Spartacus-like affair, then congratulations, that must have been pretty special.