Already a smash on the comedy circuit, we caught up with John Robertson to talk about his latest show, The Dark Room, which will appeal especially to gamers and fans of ‘choose your own adventure’ stories…
STARBURST: How did you get started in comedy?
John Robertson: My best friend said it’d be a good career choice. She was right, there’s very little discipline and your mind’s free to go wherever it wants.
How would you describe your type of comedy to those unfamiliar with your work?
Your latest show, The Dark Room, is video game based, what can you tell us about that?
Well, first it was a YouTube game (four million hits, some death threats), now it’s a live-action 1980s text adventure. It’s been up to the Ed Fringe a few times, been staged at UK Gaming Expo, MCM Comic Con London, Dysprosium, EB Games Expo Sydney, Udderbelly... we’re going to Tokyo in November, that oughta be fun…
The way it works is the world’s been destroyed, so to survive, my crowd has to pass a simple test: escape… a dark room. The one thing stopping them is me… dressed as a floating head, screaming, “YOU AWAKE TO FIND YOURSELF IN A DARK ROOM!”
There’s a lot of the crowd chanting and picking options off a screen and winning appalling prizes. Kinda like a panto and a really good nightmare. Keeps growing and changing, too…
It’s pretty true to the spirit of text adventures, - especially since they were really just you in a room with a psychopathic dungeon master who loved grammar… and hated you. There’s also £1000 to be won if anyone makes it out alive. (Only two people have so far, thank God.)
Were you a fan of the Fighting Fantasy books growing up?
Yep. When I started doing Dark Room in Edinburgh back in 2012, Ian Livingstone actually showed up! I think he said something like, “Hello, I’m Ian Livingstone, I invented the thing you’re parodying.” Then he played and was excellent. Took me out for a cider afterwards… a tremendously kind man.
What were/are your top 5 favourite games?
5. Sonic 2 – best 2D platformer ever made
4. Dead Space – finally, an off-brand Aliens!
3. Star Trek 25th Anniversary Edition – Shatner’s abs look so good in pixel form
2. Metal Slug – don’t reveal your weird fetish for pixel art, idiot
1. Street Fighter III: Third Strike – oh, for Christ’s sake!
The Dark Room is at Gorilla, Manchester Friday July 24th, tickets:
and at the Edinburgh Fringe: August 6th – 30th, tickets:
Photo by Bruce Moyle