John-Paul Stephenson

Review: Rob Rouse: Life Sentences – Newcastle Stand

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Rob Rouse | Giggle Beats

Rob Rouse

Like many comedians in their 30s, Life Sentences is influenced by the birth of a child. In this case, Rouse’s second, with his first offspring already serving his comedy apprenticeship by entertaining the school assembly with his bum.

Talk about poo and wee dominate the show.  These have become his life sentence, along with the endless tsunami of questions about everything that adults should probably be able to explain, but can’t. Like an audience at a Jim Davidson gig, Rouse is faced with an onslaught of crap.

The meaning is that there is no meaning. At face value, all is good, and the giggles are there. But, without sounding like a daily sheet at the Fringe, I can’t help thinking that the show would have benefited from something more. Rouse was clear that Life Sentences doesn’t have a message. Declaring his alignment to feminism is a bit of a red herring, as he drops the concept as soon as he introduces it.

Doubts about the integrity of the material are easily excused by a sustained, energetic and engaging performance. Rouse bounces around every inch of the stage, bending over, and spinning around to accommodate the entire audience. This evokes both the manic sleep-deprived father and the manic children who are the cause of the sleep deprivation.

A world in which The Only Way is Essex can win BAFTAs in two consecutive years causes disconcertion for Rouse. Remembering that the second ‘A’ is supposed to stand for ‘Arts’, his worries are justified. Along with a similar critique of Geordie Shore, this stuff isn’t entirely original, but that’s no reason not to fight the good fight.

Life Sentences is a fun show, but seems to rely a little too heavily on the ‘urggh factor’. Gags about bodily functions are fine but become overpowering and a little unsatisfying. Perhaps contradictorily, he avoids the saccharine moments we often get when comics talk about their children. Overall, this show may be a good representation of Rouse’s life at the moment, but perhaps it doesn’t quite sustain a full show.

Date of live review: Tuesday 2nd October 2012.