Reviewer: Jo Beggs
Here’s the problem. You create an act, craft your live stage show, gig at Edinburgh Fringe year after year, and work hard to get yourself a small but enthusiastic following. Then you get yourself into the finals in Britain’s Got Talent. That’s got to be a great career move, hasn’t it? Robert White did just that – and now he’s playing the Quays Theatre at the Lowry. The trouble is, it’s half full of the people who know to expect a run of filthy jokes, and half full of an audience who expect the family-friendly version they saw on the telly.
“You didn’t hear that one on Britain’s Got Talent” he adds to more than one of his raunchy lyrics with a wicked smile. Half the audience love it. The ones with the young teenagers in tow look sheepish. They may well have got some idea of how the evening is going to pan out fairly early on. Support act Joe Bor alternates dull ‘where are you from and what do you do’ interactions with the audience with old school sex jokes. He seems slightly overawed by playing to a theatre crowd rather than a comedy club, a bit unsure how to play things, which results in a rather stilted set and leaves the audience far from warmed up for Robert White in the second half.
Despite this, White makes a spirited entrance. In the first minute or so he’s told us how he ticks a whole bunch of boxes as the “only gay, Aspergic, quarter-Welsh comic on the British comedy circuit”. In his signature multicoloured tank top, a particularly captivating pair of sequined shoes and his “cute Emo haircut – that really makes me look like Tintin”, he gets the show off to a pacy start.
There’s much to like about White. He’s an energetic performer with the great balance of sardonic wit and anarchic foolery. He’s an accomplished musician and punctuates his set with comic songs. He occasionally really hits home with a beautifully delivered pun or a sharp ad-lib. But there’s just not enough of the stuff that clearly helped him get to second place in one of TV’s biggest talent shows. The reliance on lude jokes gets makes for a dull hour, and the constant ribbing of three unlucky blokes in the audience, one of whom eventually gets brought up on stage and, despite braving it out, looks about as uncomfortable as he could possibly get, is tiresome.
You get the feeling that there’s so much more going on inside White’s head than what we’re getting – that he’s taking the easy way out, with this poorly structured show. Delivering this puerile material seems to conceal and very real comic talent – it’s not even that shocking, it’s just frustratingly not funny enough.
Reviewed on 20 February 2019 | Image: Contributed