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Owen Roberts: I Let a Six-Year-Old Write My Show

at Pleasance Courtyard

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Charming exploration of the peculiar comic brilliance of a young child’s mind.

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Owen Roberts has found himself cohabiting with a 6-year-old. The explanation is not all that odd: she’s the daughter of his new girlfriend. But for someone who was previously unattached, living the itinerant lifestyle of a comedian, suddenly being a step-father to a mini-person makes for quite an abrupt change. One that, as it happens, seems to work well for both of them.

Searching for a theme for his new hour of comedy, Roberts (one third of the popular sketch comedy group, Beasts) seizes upon his new charge’s inherent creative flair and asks young Isabella to help him write his latest show. After a bum steer that insists he commence the show dressed as a chicken that poo eggs (seeing grown men in unflattering, ill-fitting leotards is never as funny as some comics seem to think it is), it quickly becomes apparent that Isabella’s comedic sensibilities are strong. We hear audio of her dictating the show ‘The Clumsy Policewoman’ to Roberts, detailing the epic struggles of “a police” called Boss Sterns, who has wild ginger hair “all the way down her back, to where you would get an injection.” Roberts provides the perfect foil for Isabella’s narrative, faux-despairing at her increasingly outlandish suggestions.

As a showcase for the surrealism and absurdity of children, it’s utterly charming. Anyone with close proximity to a child will cluck with recognition as Isabella jumps from subject to subject, throwing dancing crabs, moral philosophy and barely-mastered swear words around with equal glee. And in his responses, Roberts is skilfully sardonic, his straight-faced scepticism the perfect foil to the fanciful Isabella.

But the heart of the piece is the obvious underlying love and affection Roberts feels for his inherited family, and she for him. Their mutual delight in each other’s silliness underpins each exchange in a heartwarming hour.