Interview: Robert White

Our very own writer, Claire Brooks, recently got the opportunity to interview the lovely, and hilarious, Robert White. You may recognise him as the vibrant comedian who came second in the 2018 series of Britain’s Got Talent. Well, he’s headlining the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club at York Barbican on Friday 19th October before he takes his Tanktop Tour on the road next year. Here’s what he had to say:

Hi Robert! Thanks so much for taking the  time to talk to us. You mentioned during the Britain’s Got Talent live shows that your comedy had to be toned down a little for TV – has your risqué sense of humour ever gotten you into trouble?

R: If you do anything that’s genuinely offensive, then audiences won’t like it. Whereas if you’re being risqué and you’re cheeky with it, it doesn’t really get you into trouble with audiences.

“I was once at a job with someone who was really pedantic – he’d written down exactly, number-by-number, the things you couldn’t do. I noticed that he hadn’t put on the list ‘you can’t wear a mask of Gareth Gates’, so I fashioned a mask of Gareth Gates out of a magazine and then sat in a call centre answering phones wearing that – and promptly got fired.”

Comedy has also helped me out of trouble. It develops out of a misunderstanding of reading people due to Asperger’s, and a misunderstanding of language due to dyslexia. Originally, they’re mistakes – but then you own them and they become comedy material. When I was a kid, we didn’t have much money. One evening we only had one rich tea biscuit for pudding and I didn’t like it so I threw it at my dad. He said, ‘go to your room!’, and I went ‘ahh but it’s a plain [plane] biscuit’. He laughed, and I didn’t go to my room. The funniest thing about that is that my little sister saw what I’d done and, like, two days later she threw a cake at my dad. He said, ‘what?!’ and she said ‘it’s a cake’. So comedy can get you into trouble, but it can get you out of trouble.

It’s fantastic and refreshing to see how transparent and honest you are about who you are – from your sexuality to having Asperger’s. What advice would you give someone who doesn’t have the confidence to come out of their shell?

R: One person’s shell is another person’s comfort blanket. Whether you’re a girl who wants to become an engineer, or you’re autistic and you want to stand on stage, or maybe you’re gay and want to become a footballer or something – just go and do it. If you don’t do it, you’ll wait 20 years and find that someone else has done it. There’s going to be someone, there’s going to be so many firsts. That’s for everyone, generally.

Specifically for people with Asperger’s: don’t kick yourself for the things you get wrong. Focus on the positives of what you can do.

“Whether you’re a girl who wants to be an engineer, or you’re autistic and you want to be on stage – just go and do it. If you don’t, you’ll wait and find someone else has done it. If you don’t see that there’s a path there, make your own path.”

You grabbed audiences immediately with your unique style – you even made jokes out of your clothing! When did you develop your bright and colourful style, and how did it come about?

R: Well, what I originally thought were clown trousers are now being sold in Topman as a height of fashion. It’s strange because I’ve also got lots of brightly coloured shoes, and I once went into [a high street shoe shop] – and this person came up to me and said very loudly, ‘but these are the women’s shoes, sir’. I turned around and said, ‘these are bright, aqua blue, patent ankle boots, that, if they’re anyone’s shoes, they’re clowns’ shoes. And I’m a clown’.

On stage I want to present myself as larger than life. Up until the age of 30 I only ever wore blue, because in my head I only ever wanted to wear blue. At the age of 30 I said to myself, ‘you should get out of this strict clothing regime where you can wear more than just blue’. Ever since I was 30 – almost to the day of my 30th birthday – I’ve worn clothing where every single piece is totally different coloured. So I’ve gone from one mad thing to another mad thing. My mind works in patterns and stuff, so that’s seeped through to my clothing on stage as well.

 

We’re excited to see you in York – have you ever been to our city before? If yes, what’s your favourite thing about it? If not, what are you most looking forward to?

R: No, but I’ve been to New York, and I assume it’s the same, just slightly older, is that right? It’s sort of slightly sad because I’ve been to Weymouth and Aberystwyth recently and you don’t really go. I’m sure York’s lovely, but diplomatically, the answer to ‘what are you looking forward to?’ is: ‘Well, there’s a Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club that I hear is very good…’

You’re appearing with the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club on October 19th, but your Tanktop Tour doesn’t start until February 2019. Will you be previewing any of your tour material on the 19th?

R: I’ll be doing some similar material. I’ve been doing [comedy] for about 13-14 years and I’ve got lots of material. It all changes depending on the audience. A lot of it’s to do with being in the room and in the moment.

To the nearest 100, how many tank tops do you actually own?

R: I did once have 369. But that’s not to the nearest 100, so I’d have to say 400. I collected so many and then I brought it down, and now I’ve probably got about 100.

Robert White will be headlining the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club alongside Keith Carter as Stacey Silcox, Freddie Quinne, and Damion Larkin. Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start. Tickets cost £17 in advance, or £22.95 on the door. Click here to book online, or call 0844 854 2757.

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