John-Luke Roberts: 'I'm not turning any idea down, no matter how strange or obscure'
- Marissa Burgess
- 2 February 2018
He's been Geoffrey Chaucer and his late father on stage, but John-Luke Roberts insists that he will keep trying to fill rooms with laughter through his niche comedy
John-Luke Roberts' latest show is billed as a work-in-progress, but that doesn't mean it's going to sell short. This is simply how Roberts works and a beautiful but strange creature will no doubt manifest itself in My Title Exceeds 50 Characters. 'I do a lot of my writing on stage, so work-in-progresses are invaluable to me. Also, they're pretty fun shows to watch: we all end up finding the show together. Somehow it's usually not a disaster. "John-Luke Roberts: usually not a disaster",' he jokes.
Given the eclectic nature of his influences, it's no surprise that most of Roberts' shows are full of the unexpected and are as ridiculous as they are funny. Citing Simon Munnery, Vic and Bob, Barry Humphries and Victoria Wood, he also draws inspiration from 'theatre, and cabaret, and drag, and performance art. I was reading a lot of Ali Smith before last year's show and I think that influenced that particular one. The Wicker Man too.'
Never one to shy away from a highbrow reference, last year's show (Look on My Works, Ye Mighty And Despair: All in Caps) included a running appearance from that literary superstar of the middle ages, Geoffrey Chaucer. 'There's a particular joy in taking a stupid thought about a thing that maybe 50% of your audience know, and being able to get the whole room laughing. So this year I'm not turning any idea down, no matter how strange or obscure, and playing with it until I can find a way to make it work for whoever has turned up.' Expect many innovative, hybrid wonders to emerge, then.
John-Luke Roberts: My Title Exceeds 50 Characters, Veneer Gallery, Glasgow, Friday 16 March.