Much of Rob Carter’s chat centres on being awkward and posh. ‘I’m a bit of a bad-arse beneath the cashmere’, he said, speaking of the difficulties of growing up on the estate – his country estate – and running away from his parents’ house as a child to set up in the new annexe. The characterisation is very bland, so much so that it can be hard to laugh with him.
The stand-up is punctuated by frequent songs. The first one begins with Carter’s love of murdering his childhood friends as a rainy-day pastime. This was funny; the gentleness of the music and Carter’s mild-mannered tones set an unexpected backdrop for casual murder. After this, though, the songs began to feel more and more tired. The lyrics were funny, but the persona – an awkward young middle-class man attempting to be smooth with ill-fitting prose lyrics, bad metaphors, and underwhelming attempts at romance – has been done before, most notably by New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords.
The audience interactions are a bit awkward and not in the same amusing way as the awkward lyrics. Carter never really gets us on side – he’s a bit too good at the spoilt-posh-boy act – and when he (very mildly) put down a member of the audience, he immediately apologised with a ‘no, not really, I’m just joking’.
The show ends with Carter prancing around in a tight cat costume, singing the lyrics ‘I’m pretending to be a cat, I’m just pretending/ I’m not actually a cat’ to a tune from Cats. (‘This is what it’s like if you follow your dreams!’ he cries, in yet another reference to his own life). This move falls a bit flat – he’s asking us to feel sorry for him after an hour of jokes revolving around sitting in his parents’ flat in London doing nothing much. I want to like him, but his style just doesn’t quite allow for it – rather, he comes across as a bit self-indulgent.
Basically, Carter’s material isn’t bad, and his song lyrics are in places funny. However, his stage presence leaves something to be desired and the awkward-posh-man trope just doesn’t feel fresh. It all feels a little two dimensional: maybe he just needs to be a little bit nastier.