Comedy blog

Robert White: Edinburgh Fringe 2017 interview

Robert White edinburgh fringe

The Malcolm Hardee Award-winning, gay, autistic comedian combines his musical composition talents with his well-honed comedy chops to present a fully orchestrated comedy opera of unbelievable, but true, misadventures and misfortune.


Hello. How are you today?

I’ve been procrastinating answering these questions for ages as I’m quite dyslexic and anything like this is such a chore, but I’m also autistic and tend to try and write the totality of my thought process meaning that my answers are actually quite long, so really I’d rather do anything else. So as to how I am, I’d say I was ok until I’d realised I have to answer these questions, but now I feel a few hours of pain stretching out before me. Now, as I’m writing this, all of a sudden I’m feeling a bit more annoyed, because I realise I didn’t need the whole first sentence of this answer and that, in describing my long winded answers being a chore, I actually made this whole thing more long winded and more of a chore, where as the second sentence starting with ‘So as to how I am’ would have been sufficient. But now I’m actually quite angry indeed as I realise that pointing out such an error, and anything I write from now on to rectify it, will itself just be adding to the long winded chore factor of this whole thing. Maybe I should have just said I was fine ? Bugger! To be honest there is so much more I want to say about ‘how I am’ as it seems that, as every second passes, the answering of the question is itself inflicting another blow against my state of being, but more than wanting to say so much more I really have an intense urge just to stop. So there we go. I will just stop. So how am I ? Quite a lot worse feeling than when I started this question. There we go, that last sentence answered it in eleven words, but if I delete everything else and just put that I’ll look like a grumpy arse!! AAAGGGH , HELP !!!! *breaks pen*

At this stage, how closely does your programme blurb match the content of your show?

Both of them match exactly because: 1. I have decided to tell a true story with so many details and facts that I literally couldn’t leave anything out or change it and 2. I’ve only done two previews so far so I haven’t found out what, of the stuff I naively and stupidly think I can’t leave out or change, I’ll actually end up leaving out or changing.

Have the momentous events of 2016 affected your act in any way?

On a few topical jokes, yes. I’ve got one reference in a song where I rhyme ‘garage’ with ‘Farage’, and as Nigel slips out of public view I have wondered its relevance. Luckily I was talking to my mum the other day and she said she felt he was less of a topical fool and more an archetypal idiot, and as such I’m confident his baffoonishness will live on for a while, long enough for my Edinburgh show at least. Other than these sort of small passing references the main story of my show itself comes from 1999/2000, so I can’t re-write that according to 2016 events, unless I become a communist dictator, although sadly I feel I’ve left it very late in life for a career change of that magnitude.

Who are you sharing a flat with this festival and how will you help each other survive the month?

My friend Shaun, who is a magician, who I share a flat with in London, and he is also doing the sound for my show. He is gay, as am I (I am not saying I couldn’t stay with someone who’s straight, I have, and of course I have friends who are straight, and I have even had straight boyfriends), but it does mean that he knows both the words and hand actions to the ultimate mantra of survival, the song ‘I will survive’, which is not only great for lifting the spirits but is also my third favourite cycle-of-5th’s based composition after Mr Sandman and I Got Rhythm.

Any shows you’re particularly excited about seeing?

I don’t really know who the people with ‘the buzz’ are, and I don’t really watch comedy when I have time off. I am looking forward to seeing friend shows and I am looking forward to seeing Terry Alderton, because to my mind he is a god and I am looking forward for anything else that tickles my fancy, and I do feel my fancy will be tickled as my show is at 3.15pm, leaving my evenings free, when not gigging on guest spots. I would love to learn about and see the guys with ‘the buzz’ to find out what ‘the buzz’ actually is.

Other than the great shows, what else are you looking forward to about your trip to Edinburgh this year?

Sitting on my own in my room in complete silence.

What celebrity death hit you the hardest in 2016 (mine was Wogan)?

The death of George Gershwin. He was a musical genius of incomparable proportions, and whilst admittedly he died in 1937, in 2016 his death hit me hard as it does every year.

Here’s a space to write about anything you want. Go for it.

Ok, I suppose I have to plug my show:

My opera was created on a broken laptop that the composition finally finished off. After that came a borrowed studio, a mic fixed with cello-tape and a realisation that I can’t play the piano or trumpet as well as when I was 20. My music is influenced by neo-romanticism and a fusion of classical and popular forms [I cried when I realised George Gershwin had died, even though it was 40 years before I was born], and I am also using ‘reference’ in this piece for purposes of parody, comedy and all that shizzle. There is also an unstated melody running throughout which is that of a song I wrote in prison.

The story is that classic tale of a shy, young un-diagnosed autistic man, after struggling with various issues in childhood and adolescence, realising at 19 that he is gay. Not wanting to be gay, he gets into a relationship with a girl, which he sees as a ‘rescue’ for him, only for that girl, who has issues of her own, to turn into Satan. The situation pushes him to breaking point and, whilst he does eventually leave, it brings him to a totally absurd mental breakdown. Not having sufficient skills in communication to square the circle of the insane situation, he comes up with a totally loopy autism fuelled idea to play a practical joke, whereby he decides to dress up as a comedy armed robber, go to the shop where his ex works and say ‘music stand and deliver’. Although he sets out to do it, he actually doesn’t go through with it but, on walking home, due to characteristically awful luck, he gets noticed dressed-up like an idiot and in a split second realises he’s basically in deeper doodoo than Dungy the dung beetle whose dung house has been demolished by a cow pat tsunami. He ends up in Wandsworth prison and it’s then that things really go arse-about-face. {A totally true story.}


Robert White: InstruMENTAL
Gilded Balloon Teviot
2-27 Aug, 3.15pm
£8-£10

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