**** (out of 5)
You’ll likely never see a comedian take to the stage quite like John-Luke Roberts does in his 2022 Fringe show.
The title also doubles as a recurring set-up (not a catchphrase, I repeat, not a catchphrase). “There’s a world just like our own, but…” is not meant to turn JLR into the next Jeff Foxworthy; rather, the set-ups prompt surreal, absurdist one-liners that conjure up in your mind worlds you might have only seen before in a Far Side cartoon panel.
Roberts taps into our culturally obsessive trend toward multiverses. A washing machine onstage functions magically as a portal to those other worlds, complete with a corded phone (would you believe a landline?!) that connects the comedian to all of the other John-Luke Roberts, who ring him up throughout the hour. Of course, what good is having knowledge or imagination of so many alternate realities, if you’re not trying to escape your current one? Ay, there’s the rub. Turns out the John-Luke Roberts in our world is having a bit of an existential crisis, brought on by an all-too-real breakdown of what he perceived to be his current reality. So dreaming up all of these alternate dimensions has only distracted him from deciding how he should continue on in this one. The diversion hasn’t been all bad. Far from it. The hope is when the hour’s done and the lights come back up, we’re all ready to make the most of this world we’re actually living in.
John-Luke Roberts: A World Just Like Our Own, But… runs through Aug. 28, 2022, at Monkey Barrel 4.