Smug Roberts: Me Dad's Dead
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
Me Dad died on Monday. So much to do, funeral, flowers, look after mum, I needed to keep busy to stay strong.
I pulled Tuesday's gig, but kept the Glasgow weekend in. Anyone who had a problem with that got told "It's what he would have wanted".
Smug Roberts A broken hearted clown tells the story of his loss and how he coped.
He gigged, they laughed, he cried.
Smug Roberts is a Manchester based Jongleurs-style club comic who might be described, not entirely correctly, as old-school. He is clearly a very professional Northern circuit act who can play to any audience and quickly endear himself to them rapidly.
This show, a one-off Fringe performance, began with 15 minutes of excellent mainstream comedy which the audience positively lapped up. It was skilful, amiable, fast-talking, upbeat , and bathed in a warm orange light.
Then the lighting suddenly changed to stark dark and white and for a short, hard, barren vignette of the events surrounding his father's death. Smug instantly changed from loveable outgoing entertainer to crushed, empty and vulnerable lonely son.
Contrasting scenes of happy feelgood stand-up were intercut with the bleakness. In one scene, Roberts sits in the dark calling his dead father's answerphone again and again just to hear his voice.
It is an extraordinarily affecting demonstration of how a professional comic can put on a mask of sincerity, and even come to accept that as reality while on stage.
Smug sets one foot wrong with a joke about Robert De Niro which is immediately followed by a mystifying and misjudged use of the Godfather theme. And he does not quite pull off the end switch from comedy to seriousness.
But these are small quibbles in what is a very brave and successful attempt to say something original about genuine emotions.