donald robertsonAs we enter the room, the stage for Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian is set up with the sparse but unmistakable collection of props that can only denote one thing: stand-up comedy. The brick wall, spotlight, mic stand and stool – they’re all there. Once it starts, however, it’s hard to know what to expect. There’s the anticipation of comedy from the double bluff in the title. But we also assume that it’s not just a stand-up show.

At the core of it there is the heartwarming story of Donald Robertson himself, as told by the charismatic Gary McNair. There are moments of wit and McNair cleverly weaves the tale of bullying victim Donald with what can only be described as “stand up theory” – where he talks the audience through various techniques that make a successful stand up show. Together Gary and Donald devise a plan to beat the bullies and become king of the school by making them laugh with him instead of at him.

It’s hard to comment on the humour of a show that explicitly says in the title that it’s not about humour. The jokes work on the basis that they’re so unfunny, they’re funny, which feels somewhat lazy. The other jokes are just offensive, despite the fact that they are far enough removed by the fact that it’s not stand up, it’s a theatre show about stand-up.

In the end the message is no more than this: you have to step on people to get to the top, which in a way is strangely true, if not a bit uninspiring. It is all redeemed somewhat by the punchline of the whole show, but I won’t ruin that for you. But what it lacks in originality it makes up for in heart; the story of Donald Robertson has some touching moments and is ultimately an endearing watch. 

Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian plays at Traverse until 24 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information and tickets see the Edinburgh Fringe website.