John-Luke Roberts – throwing balloons at grief

Edinburgh intros #16: A purveyor of consistently funny Edinburgh shows over the years, Mr Roberts is ramping up the clowning

John Luke Roberts comedian1. JLR. What are the over-riding feelings going into this year’s Edinburgh?
I’m excited and nervous, as usual. But basically, looking forward to it. I’ve done enough of them now for the festival to seem like a good opportunity to do my job well for a month to good audiences, rather than a make-or-break industry showcase.

2. Tell us a bit about the show.
The form: I do a series of stupid things to get laughs. The content: life is hard, my dad’s dead and I’m a bell-end.

3. What’s your favourite bit?
I’m not telling you that, it would ruin the surprise. The whole opening routine is great fun to do, if people are enjoying it. Otherwise it seems like the worst idea in the world.

4. What’s your walk-on music going to be and why, if indeed there is any?
The Nina Simone version of Nobody’s Fault But Mine. I do a routine to it, and I’ve generally found comedy works best to either sad or bombastic songs – I’ve gone sad this year. A sad song seems appropriate – my dad’s dead. Now, the song maybe suggests that it’s nobody’s fault but mine that my dad’s dead. That’s not true – it is mainly food and alcohol and bloodymindedness’s fault. Oh, and time: time never gets the blame it deserves. “Time’s a great healer,” they say, but it’s better at the other thing.

5. Whom will you be living with and how do you expect that to go – will there be hilarious consequences?
I’m renting a room from a very nice man called Richard. I have done this for four years running and nothing hilarious has happened yet. So either that pattern will continue or be subverted in a surprising, hilarious way.

6. What will your Edinburgh daily routine be?
Get up, swim or something, breakfast, do flyer admin, have lunch, maybe flyer, maybe see a show, do my show, have dinner, do ACMS [the magnificent mixed-bill show JLR co-hosts – Ed]. The most important thing is spend as much time as you can acting like you’re not in a festival, otherwise the weird stress’ll get you. And don’t drink too much. And try not to get yourself into a situation when you have to eat six lemons in your show every day [a nod to his 2014 show – Ed].

7. Do you enjoy the Fringe?
Yes, most of the time. I’ve only had two years when it’s been truly horrible – one because I was a student doing a play that was no fun to do and was dumped at the beginning of the month, the other because we’d put blackouts in our sketch show and they really ruined the momentum. We took them out, and then it was more or less fine.

8. Is silliness a good thing to seek solace in? It certainly seemed to work for last year’s break-up show, which was messy and strange and very funny.
I haven’t found a better way of dealing with things, but there might be one. Life and death and love are all ridiculous, nebulous things, so being silly about them must be as good a way of dealing with them as any. AND being playful and silly and in the moment on stage is (probably) SCIENTIFICALLY good for your mental well-being and balancedness. All that said … the fact that doing an hour-long comedy show about deceased immediate family members while you have balloons in your trousers hasn’t been adopted by any culture as its habitual grieving process does maybe undermine my argument.
Hang on! Maybe I should just talk to someone about my feelings.

9. Last year love, this year death. Any concerns about the coming 12 months?
I’m not sure exactly what’s left. I’d better pull back on the disasters. Next year I hope to do a show about how aubergines look funny.

10. Pleeeease give us one of your insults. Pleeeeeease? Pleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease. Or are you ditching those this year?
Your spirit animal is herpes.

John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up is at the Voodoo Rooms at 6.55pm, follow him on Twitter at @jlukeroberts

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