John-Luke Roberts: Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! (All in Caps)

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 18 Aug 2017
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John Luke Roberts

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.