John-Luke Roberts Distracts You from a Murder, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

Julian Hall
Tuesday 17 August 2010 00:00

The confident and handsome John-Luke Roberts, another of those clever boys from The Invisible Dot stable along with last year's newcomer winner Jonny Sweet and last year's main award winner Tim Key, is the kind of gentleman who could get away with murder if not basing his show on the slight premise of committing one.

Somehow pulling off a tank top with panache, Roberts sets about bludgeoning his audience into submission, first with a series of pre-pared insults he reads off cards. "In a dystopian vision of the future you would remain the same", runs one.

It's clever, it's arresting, but a device leaned upon perhaps a bit too much. And it marks out, for me, his faintly aloof persona that can't quite draw me in to his conceit.

A string of television and radio writing credits bear testimony to his comedy brain and there are moments here to savour. Much of the humour is cute: for example, he talks about changing his name to "Walk Don't Walk" and living in New York so his name could be up in lights, or making a Battenberg cake and calling it an "apartheid sponge".

These kind of jokes are a counterweight to the gruesome business of torture and murder that Roberts' persona is engaged in, but I think there should be more tension between these opposing forces. It's a refreshing take without being one that enhances the material within.

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