If, like me, you were an avid viewer of Britain’s Got Talent last year, you’ll be delighted to hear that comedian Robert White is coming to Bradford with his debut UK tour: The Tank Top Tour.
The comedian undoubtedly has a unique style. He’s the only gay, Aspergic, quarter-Welsh comic on the British comedy circuit – and his chaotic stage presence and quick-witted improv makes Robert one of the most unusual and talented new comedians.
I’m delighted to be able to share a piece written by John Fleming about Robert White, who is the proud winner of the Malcolm Hardee Award for Comic Originality…
Is comedian and musician Robert White the new Susan Boyle? He had been performing comedy for 14 years, but then his mum and BGT changed his life. Robert explains “I went on Britain’s Got Talent, because I was going to give up comedy and I wanted to show my mum I had done everything I could to try and make it work. I thought I would do Britain’s Got Talent and not get anywhere. It was more unexpected than waking up in the morning and having breakfast in bed brought to you by David Walliams.”
Is there a theme to the new show? Robert explains “There will be songs, jokes, quirky things you won’t expect and it’s not TV, so there will be a little more grown-up stuff in it, though always in a friendly, funny way. On TV, you see me connecting with Simon Cowell and David Walliams and you are watching that separated from it by a screen. On the live tour, I am connecting with you in the audience in a very direct way. Laughs are there to be got and it’s all about connection to the audience, doing jokes and having fun.”
Robert has a remarkable ability to make up song lyrics and very memorable original tunes on the spot. Without even taking a brief pause, he immediately sang:
I cannot make up a song on the spot
That’s a skill I haven’t got
I will not do it even if you insist
I would not do it to please a journalist
Dyslexic Robert is known for writing songs with intricate lyrics “Since I was a kid, it has been easier to make stuff up than to read it. Over the years, I developed the ability to improvise. It depends what is happening. There was a man in the audience last night called Ryan and I made up a song about him being Ryanair and taking me on a flight. There may or may not be audience participation. It depends on the specific audience, what makes them laugh, what makes them happy. I may or may not get someone up on stage. It depends on the night and on the audience.”
Robert has been described as having brilliant timing and an anarchic performance style. Can audiences expect the same level of anarchy in his first live tour? He shrugs, “Who knows if it will be anarchic? The point about anarchy is you don’t know what’s coming. The unexpected. I haven’t done anything totally anarchic. But then my stuff is not really political. I’m writing a children’s musical. Maybe, after that, I might go back to teaching. My last day at the school was very sad. I loved it and the kids were amazing. But Britain’s Got Talent turned my life round and has given me opportunities which I never dreamed of.”
“I would like to do lots of comedy shows. I would like to write lots of musicals. I would like to write symphonies and songs. If I became a person writing musicals, that would properly please me. My idea about being a serious composer is that I don’t have to be successful during my lifetime. If I make sure I die in poverty, I can succeed 200 years after I’m dead when I am re-discovered. At the moment, I am just enjoying this tour which takes me to lots of interesting places around Britain.”
Be wary of asking Robert White what appear to be straightforward questions, because he will turn everything into unexpected directions, as he does in his act.
“What’s the best thing about touring?”
“Alan Turing? His mathematical ability. He was also another gay, autistic person. But the best thing about touring is hearing the laughter and seeing the smiles night after night and connecting with the audience.”
Catch Robert’s show on Saturday 16 February at St George’s Hall, Bradford. Visit the website to get your tickets sorted!