In a black room, seemingly perfect for ‘The Dark Room’, John Robertson took to the stage for his final London preview of his Edinburgh Fringe Show dubbed ‘Arena Spectacular’. Firstly, the most striking thing about Robertson is that quite frequently he will go sans-microphone. Here is this suited man bellowing jokes and abuse at you, with the gusto of Brian Blessed at a fraction of the size. He also moves around… a lot, which you will find out if you sit in the front row.
EVERYWHERE IS THE FRONT ROW.
I typically sit in the front row of comedy shows anyway, but at a John Robertson show, he will find you with the skill of Liam Neeson in Taken. John has a lot of skills at his disposal over a long career.
If you visit John’s website (thejohnrobertson.com) you’ll find his tagline is “Comedy through Fear”. That’s true to a degree, there are sections which will make you nervous, like the time he compared me to Christ (I have long hair and a shit beard, what are you gonna do? Crucify me?) and said that it might be a bit ‘too soon’ to be sitting the way I was due to the cross shape my legs were making.
Instinctively, I uncrossed my legs and sat like a normal human being, but John immediately noticed my change in posture and remarked about how I shouldn’t have changed my seating position because he pointed out the cross my legs were making… So I re-crossed my legs and sat like that until the show was over. God dammit.
I mean Dad dammit.
Having seen Arena Spectacular once before (another preview at another venue), I can honestly say while the show is solid, and hilarious (I almost coughed up a lung laughing so much the first time), some of the magic comes from the improv he performs with the audience. Or should I say AT the audience. It’s never your standard “What is your occupation” stuff, which every comedian does (or so I thought until I saw one MC fail miserably at it a few weeks back.)
I won’t give away anything from the actual bread and butter of the show, because you need to see it to appreciate it, but what I am willing to say is that it is fully worth the £9 admission fee. He deftly goes from the core of the show, into improv and back out again, talking about the inspiration for his previous Edinburgh shows, videogaming, what he did for his birthday amongst other topics (some serious, many not-so) all the while stopping to abuse some audience members (it’s not banter! It’s abuse!). Who doesn’t love a little bit of sadomasochistic activity in the afternoon- I fear I have said too much.
You can find John Robertson on twitter at @Robbotron, his website once again is thejohnrobertson.com and he’ll be at the fringe performing TWICE A DAY, his first show Arena Spectacular runs at The Stand Comedy Club 2 (Venue 5) from the 4th to the 27th of August at 3:40pm and tickets are £9 (click here for more info).
His second show The Dark Room also runs from the 4th to the 27th and is at the Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) at 8:30pm, tickets are £11 (and once again are worth every penny.) You can get your tickets here.