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John Robertson: A Nifty History Of Evil

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

There must be something in the air in Perth, Western Australia. The world’s most remote city has already given us the shouty, in-yer-face Brendon Burns, and now following very much in that forceful style comes the cut-price version – well, free, actually – John Robertson.

He shouts and hollers his way through this brisk and entertaining 40-minute set, hs volume being something of an asset in free venues that don’t always benefit from the best soundproofing. In black leather trousers and corset, his hair backcombed like Wolverine, he epitomises the evil aesthetic of the show perfectly.

There’s no grand design here, Robertson just blasts through loosely themed material covering a range of unusual material including the infamous Hartlepool monkey-hanging, Rasputin’s giant penis, Kabbalah’s vampire myths, sinister Japanese McDonald’s ads and the antics of the Marquis De Sade, here recreated using an incredibly cute monkey puppet, and a rather damaged whore one.

Robertson trots out the usual filthy comics’ line about having once been a children’s entertainer, but, despite the subject matter, that claim has the ring of truth here. There’s a strong strength of playfulness behind Robertson’s intense bluster, plus he has the hyperactive energy kids would love, and he’s adept at both the puppet work and the ubiquitous ukulele.

His material is interesting, even if only cursorily researched on Wikipedia, and at the very least reasonably funny – but his speed and his style overpower any such weaknesses, with such a commanding presence that the audience is swept along on the force of his personality alone.

It’s not a groundbreaking, or particularly memorable, piece of stand-up, but like a shot of energy drink, it could be just the wake-up blast you need to continue your Fringe night into the early hours.

Review date: 25 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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