Lorenzo Pacitti

Edinburgh Fringe review: John Robertson, A Nifty History of Evil

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Performing in what he describes as ‘a cupboard’, a packed, oversold audience gets up-close and personal with the manic, intense and irrepressible John Robertson.

Introducing himself at a volume he manages to maintain for the entire show, Robertson immediately grabs the audience by the collar and places them firmly in the palm of his hand, a position they won’t leave until they exit The Stand an hour later.

Robertson manages to be forceful without ever being intimidating or off-putting, despite the grisly nature of some of his material. He can be telling you about what exactly the Marquis De Sade did with his penis or exotic torture techniques, and do so with the same charm and glint in his eye as the pleasant Aussie who watched with a big grin as his queue filled up.

The subject matter is not for the faint-hearted, but he never ventures particularly far into overly-crass territory, or upsets his incredibly varied crowd beyond a slight grimace. And thankfully, Robertson’s tour of evil steers clear of more obvious candidates, the Hitlers and serial killers of the world.

His decision to favour the more obscene and curious evil figures was a wise choice, giving him much more scope for his gloriously silly observations on their behaviour.

At times, the chaotic nature of the show meant it was sometimes difficult to keep track of what story John had just started, and his fast and loud cadence meant even he would trip over himself now and then – but it was always fun to watch him find his way back.

Those looking for some dark, twisted stand-up would be hard-pressed to do better than spend an hour in the company of John Robertson and his enthusiasm for the depraved.

Date of live review: 2 August 2014 @ The Stand Comedy Club 4

Click to read all our Edinburgh Fringe reviews so far.