John Luke Roberts - On The Mic

Performer: John Luke Roberts
Photograph by: Natasha Pszenicki
Show: John-Luke Roberts: All I Wanna Do Is [FX: GUNSHOTS] With a [FX: GUN RELOADING] and a [FX: CASH REGISTER] and Perform Some Comedy!
Venue: Assembly George Square Studios (Five)
Promoter: Impatient Productions Ltd


Tell me about your Edinburgh show.

All I Wanna Do Is FX: GUNSHOTS With An FX: GUN RELOADING And A FX: CASH REGISTER And Perform Some Comedy! is a manifesto for absurdism, performed largely through the medium of fictional Spice Girls: or 55 minutes of idiotic character comedy and nonsense.


Tell me about your first gig.

It was at university. I did a routine about dabbing insect repellent on the back of a mosquito, so it was driven to self-loathing and ostracised by its community and would die of loneliness. It didn’t really work at the time, but now I remember it I might try and revive it. It’s exactly the kind of shtick I would do.


Do you have any rituals before going on stage?

Go to the loo. Check props are in order. If I can, I go for a brisk walk outside listening to carefully curated motivating music. Music at the moment includes Madness, Sparks, Janelle Monae and Wig in a Box from Hedwig.


Tell me about your best and worst review.

I think they’re the same one – last year a member of the public hated my show and wrote “I love absurdism, but this didn’t make any sense”.


During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?

I plan not to but, I probably will.


How do you feel about reviewers generally?

I wish there were a lot more properly paid, opinionated reviewers, specialising in comedy throughout the year, who have a good knowledge of their subject and frequently watch a lot of it.


In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?  

I’m not legally trained and I resent having to give any thought to him. I have given thought to him though, and I think he’s a man who wants to say toxic, hate-encouraging things and pretend it’s a joke as defence.


Are there any subjects that are not suitable for comedy? 

No, I don’t think so – but it’s always worth thinking if the distress a routine causes people is worth the laugh. Jokes are easy to write, there’s an infinite number of them, so having written a joke it’s a good idea to ask yourself “but what’s it for and is it worth it?”


Have you ever gone too far?

I performed an hour show in character as my dead dad, and the whole excitement of that was playing with such a clear taboo. But because the show was an examination of the taboo, by the time the show was complete it was totally defensible and, I’d argue, ultimately tasteful. In the early stages of putting it together, though, there were definitely nights when it was in bad taste, and quite an ugly thing.


Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.

In terms of the best time I’ve had on stage, it was probably the exhilaration of doing Set List for the first time. The adrenaline rush of having nothing and making it work is hard to beat.

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