John-Luke Roberts’ own publicity promises him as a “critically acclaimed idiot” – a billing he’s more than happy to live up to (Brighton’s Komedia, January 24).
“Idiocy can be fun to watch,” he explains, “but it is idiocy at quite a high level.
“Basically idiocy is someone going up on stage and doing something stupid. That’s more or less it, but I do try to be quite a clever idiot.”
The show is out on the road under the title After Me Comes the Flood (But in French) drip splosh splash drip BLUBBP BLUBBP BLUBBPBLUBBPBLUBBP!! It started life at the Edinburgh Fringe.
“We went through the autumn and now we have got three months coming up in the New Year. It has been a lot of fun. It is always good to take a show on the road. The show changes in ways that you wouldn’t anticipate. Always new things crop up. Different people laugh in different places.”
And it was a show that naturally expanded to fill the longer touring format: “There is so much mucking around going on that it is quite easy to make it longer. It was not naturally a one-hour show. I had to force it into that for Edinburgh”
Expect to not know why you are laughing once more… even when John-Luke gives you the punch-line first. Jokes about staring into the Nietzschean void, the stupid decisions of kings and how Pinocchio can save the world all might make appearances in this hour of “absolute silliness.”
John-Luke is a writer and Gaulier trained actor and comedian who has created six solo shows for the Edinburgh Fringe between 2010 and 2017. Titles include Stnad-Up, Stdad-Up, John-Luke Roberts Builds A Monster, Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, And Despair! (All in Caps) and last year’s sell-out hit All I Wanna Do Is [FX: GUNSHOTS] with a [FX: GUN RELOADING] and a [FX: CASH REGISTER] and Perform Some Comedy!
“I went to France and was trained by Philippe Gaulier. You go on stage and he hits a drum if you are boring, and if he hits the drum, you leave the stage.”
And that’s definitely changed his approach to performance: “If I haven’t had a laugh in 20 seconds, I will have in the back of my head this old Frenchman banging a drum!
“I was two years with him. There were various modules. And it did change my approach. I had been performing comedy for quite some time at that point. He taught me that it is enough to be having fun and to share a joke with the audience. I suppose in some ways I was a bit reluctant. I used to think that if a joke was funny, that was enough in itself. I thought if the joke was good enough, you just had to tell it. You didn’t have to act it out.”
That’s all changed now.
“It was this sudden realisation ‘Why not make it all much more fun?’ Costumes are fun to wear. Just do whatever you need to do to make it more lively, more fun so that there is always something happening for the audience.”
Part of the fun is a big banner behind him on stage giving the audience all the punch-lines.
“They see all the punch-lines that are going to come later. The game is to see them thinking what joke the punch-line goes with, but at the same time always trying to surprise them. It’s just a new way of getting laughs that I haven’t done before.”
John-Luke has written for Have I Got News For You, Newzoids and Nevermind the Buzzcocks. His sitcom Bull, co-written with Gareth Gwynn, aired on UKTV Gold and starred Robert Lindsay and Maureen Lipman. He was part of the Royal Court Writers Group and received the BBC Radio Comedy Writers Bursary in 2009.
As an actor, he has appeared in Channel 4’s Babylon and played Nigel Mainpart in his sitcom Bull. He plays Graeme in the world tour and West End run of the hit parody play Graeme of Thrones.