Created in collaboration with Scott Gooding, and presented by Vicious Fish Theatre, Who, Me marks Rob Lloyd's New Zealand debut at the NZ International Comedy Festival 2013.
Who, Me sits somewhere between classic stand-up and theatrical performance. It is a one-man show that includes a wealth of chortling moments, and employs Rob Lloyd's considerable talents as an actor, storyteller, comedian, MC and even dancer.
To start, we cheer wildly when Lloyd appears because he looks – by golly – like that actor who played the Tenth Doctor in the Dr Who series. We spend the first several minutes gawking greedily with a kind of freak show fascination.
Rob Lloyd embraces this phenomenon, utilising his unabashed passion and dizzying knowledge of all things Whovian, to strip away The Doctor and reveal himself as Rob Lloyd. It is cleverly done, and one which delivers in abundance to Dr Who fans.
The hit TV series is put on trial to determine whether Lloyd's fixation with Dr Who has ruined or enriched his life. An obsession he carefully catalogues among Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Jurassic Park and Sherlock Holmes.
As audience, we are assigned the role of Jury, and Lloyd weaves us into his world using classic audience participation; not that kind of audience participation that can have you cringing but good healthy stuff that is a little bit silly and a great deal of fun.
Lloyd executes his part with feeling, charm, confidence and mercurial energy, firing off in-jokes that have our brains racing to pinpoint the reference, supported by lighting and sound that seamlessly hit every cue.
Minute-by-minute, Lloyd “kills” The Doctor (who ironically he accuses, at one point, of genocide) as we travel the course of his life from awkward teen to struggling schoolteacher, until we are left staring at the man known as Rob Lloyd. Revealing that while on the outside he may simply appear to be a “Dr Who look-alike,” there is so much more on the inside. By the end, we're a little less awestruck, but can't help but like this bright and eclectic man.
I am hanging out somewhat for Lloyd to describe the moment when he realised that the TV show produced a Doctor who looked like him. What was it like, I wonder, to encounter your favourite cultural icon and realise that… wow, is that… me? Did he feel that he had absorbed Dr Who so much into his soul that he had somehow bent the universe to his will?
It also would have been nice for the audience to have the final vote. As Jury, it seemed fitting that our concluding participation would have been to cast the determination – guilty or not guilty; a further payoff for us, regardless of its outcome, to feel that the end is not yet fixed, and that we may yet impact the course of Time. Lloyd casts his own conclusion, which I won't reveal (spoilers).
The show's comic moments are slick and clean. On occasion it may feel a little rehearsed, but there are plenty of fresh responses from and to the audience to keep us feeling we are witnessing something that will happen just once in all of Time and Space.
Dr Who fans will unquestionably love Who, Me. It's their night. They guffaw and grin at every Whovian reference. But even if you don't know much about Dr Who, you'll still enjoy yourself. It's sharp, engaging and clever. It's certainly worth seeing.
Afterwards I wander warm and glowing into the cool autumn night, and sing the Dr Who theme tune on the way home.
In recent years Dr Who has become largely mainstream fare thanks to its BBC Wales rebirth. But this came a little late for a young Rob Lloyd, whose infatuation with all things Who erupted in the Nineties, a time when even hardcore Whovians would hide their love for shame. Rob Lloyd puts Dr Who on trial in this show, weighing up the positive influence of the TV show on his life against all the negative connotations. This show sets off at a frenetic pace and if you're a Dr Who enthusiast you'll love spotting all the references plus keeping up with the initial time shifts. If you're a complete Doctor novice however, don't despair. Aptly enough there's more on the inside of this show that appears on the outside, and it's more about Lloyd's own story than it is about the good Doctor. Lloyd intersperses his fictional trial with autobiographical tales of growing from a teen into an adult and learning to live in a social world. He hits exactly the right note with a story which is piquant without ever descending into the self indulgent. It seems natural that Lloyd would take on the Doctor as subject matter, a point he acknowledges himself. He highlights references from reviewers which compare him to David Tennant (including two from Chortle colleagues of mine) as well as showing the audience a cascade of images from his dalliances with Dr Who conventions. In general, much sport is made of nerds by comedians but the truth is that most comedians belong to that constituency. Lloyd tells of the journey which let to him embracing his inner nerd and openly celebrating all that is good and bad about it. He's Who and he's proud. One of the highlights is a pitch perfect description of the nerd hierarchy, from Star Wars, through Joss Whedon to Babylon 5. This is a show provides a place where all geeks can find a soft place to land. Taking on much loved subject matter such as this can come with a high risk of becoming in-jokey, populist or reverential. But this is an astonishing and beautiful piece which was never in danger of falling into the usual pitfalls, which is testament to the intelligence and judgment of its creators. This show is clever and complex. It is a stellar piece of work from a performer who delivers on a level which justifies comparison to David Tennant.
I smell a Fringe Award.
Darren Bevan - TVNZ'...warm and comedic take on what it means to be a nerd, to be all consumed by something and to shout out that from the rooftops. 'open/close
We all have them - no matter how you bundle them up - that rugby game you attend every week, that team you follow devotedly, that band you covet; it comes in many forms.
But what if your obsession were a TV show, a show which for the majority of its 50 years was not cool and never received the widespread iconic love it did in the last seven years? What if that show were Doctor Who and you were an Aussie fan who got into it back in the 90s? And what if that obsession was threatening to derail your life to the extent of all other matters?
That in a nutshell is the comedy festival Who Me, starring Aussie stand up and performance artist Rob Lloyd. And Rob is on trial for his life in this show, which takes a slightly self-deprecating, self-acknowledging look at what an obsession does for a life.
With boundless energy, and copious amounts of sweat under the theatre lights at Auckland's Basement, there's never anything less than 100% given by Rob on stage.
Taking on the role of the performer, the defendant and the prosecution in this examination of whether his addiction has consumed him and turned him into a lesser person, Rob actually pulls apart the world of fandom in general. (Though I will grant you, if you're a Whovian and know your Yeti from your Judoon, you may get just a little bit more from this show than anyone else).
Theatrical flourishes and clever word play breathe life into this autobiographical tale of growing up a nerd in a small Aussie town where nobody shared your interests. It's almost unremarkable to think that there was ever a time when being a fan of anything - let alone sci-fi - was not cool. These days, it's hip to be square (thanks Huey Lewis) and so the idea of being cast asunder and negotiating the lonely plane of loving something more than others is an alien one to many. But Rob takes something that many of us will recognise in ourselves (if we're honest) and turns it into a universal story of truth and self-examination. Sure, he's preaching to the converted with a lot of the audience, but his journey is one we'll all see our own traits in.
Passion and addiction are fine bedfellows and they're ones which have clearly plagued Rob throughout his life; with the help of slideshows and references to Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Babylon 5, Joss Whedon (before the Avengers), Rob fires moment after nostalgic moment of fan love onto the crowd with nothing short of empathy. High energy helps his boundless enthusiasm seep among the crowd; and there is one moment which sees the pre-conceptions of Rob and his cosplay turned on their very head - and masterfully done it is. It's clear his background as a drama teacher helps, but I never felt anything but warmth radiating from the stage into the audience.
There's a confessional feel to Who, Me? I grant you we're never but on Rob's side of the argument throughout - but what comes out are a few universal truths which examine and then celebrate what it is to be passionate about something. Sure, it's a look at one man's obsession, but it's also an utterly revered and totally recognisable warm and comedic take on what it means to be a nerd, to be all consumed by something and to shout out that from the rooftops.
Rob Lloyd is a Doctor Who fan. A very big one, in fact. The first five minutes of his new show Who, Me. consists entirely of Who in jokes and references. Needless to say, I was a little lost. But as the show continued, and after Rob helpfully ran through the who’s who, it became clear that the Doctor Who theme was just a framework for a charming story of one nerd’s coming of age.
The stories of an alienated school kid’s awkwardness provide much fodder for cringe comedy. However Rob is far too good-natured to push things into uncomfortable territories. Later tales, including Rob’s experiences as a drama teacher, allowed for a warmhearted ending that thankfully never becomes too sappy.
That theatre background means Lloyd brings to the stage an eager-to-please willingness to bounce and showboat and generally show off every trick he has. A lanky mass of energy, his manic performance is the perfect embodiment of nerdy obsession.
Being a Dr Who fan will certainly help with the onslaught of references and in-jokes, but the sentiments expressed in Who, Me. should be familiar to anyone who’s ever harbored a love for something a little out of the ordinary. Even for those not well acquainted with the good Doctor it remains a fitting tribute to all those pop culture fixations that continue to fascinate us.
Putting The Doctor on trial has always been a good idea, but as we discovered in 1986, it’s all in the execution. Producer John Nathan-Turner spent a season on confusing episodical stories linked only by the overarching premise of the trial, losing viewers by the TARDIS-load and eventually having to put the show on hiatus. It would take an audacious man to attempt judicial success where JNT failed. That man is Rob Lloyd.
With the manic energy and ability to switch from angry paternalism to cheeky insouciance, Rob resembles…well, you know who he resembles. Although I’m legally required to mention his physical similarity to David Tennant, in terms of his performance, Rob skips about the stage like Matt Smith with a bomb to dispose of and two hearts full of kinetic energy, portraying multiple characters including a prosecutor, witnesses, his younger self and current self.
This one-man show is about The Doctor, but as the other half of the title indicates, it’s also about Rob. An exploration of a life through the lens of eleven lives, complete with photos, pre-recorded sound and temporal shifts.
This is a show for hardcore fans of Doctor Who and their long-suffering partners, sure, but there’s plenty here to keep the theatre nerds entertained as Rob draws upon every skill picked up in drama classes.
In addition to comprehensively covering every Who–related gag, pun and comedic premise, Rob touches upon other segments of sci-fi fandom, putting Whovians into context, and ensures a good balance of references aimed at fans of the new series as well as the classic.
Before I saw this show, I said it would “probably help if you know what an Adric is”. That’s definitely a big help, but you’ll get as much out of Who, Me if you’ve ever been obsessed with something nerdy.
And if not, you’ll get a hilarious insight into the peculiar suffering of the isolated, lonely geek in search of a community.
Plus, Rob’s happy to hang out after the show, hawking badges and posters and listening to stories about how you got into Doctor Who, who your favourite Doctor is, and what you think of Clara. He even has the good grace to appear genuinely interested!
Simon Wong - TV3'...if you can name the 11 doctors faster than you can count to 11, Lloyd's show is written and performed remarkably well with you in mind.'open/close
I have never seen an episode of Doctor Who. I don't know what a Dalek is, let alone a Tardis or a Time Lord.
Doctor Who? is actually a very good summation of my knowledge of the hit series which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
So you can imagine my dismay at being handed two tickets to see Australian Rob Lloyd's NZ International Comedy Festival show Who, Me at The Basement in Auckland last night.
This is the David Tennant lookalike's (yes, he gets that a lot) first comedy show outside of his home country. He delivers a show not only recounting his obsession with the 11 reincarnations of the Doctor with references for die-hard fans, he provides a thorough dissection of what it means to be an obsessed, nerdy fan.
Even if you're more of a Star Wars nerd, a Babylon 5 fan, Trekkie or wannabe Pokémon master you'll be able to relate to Lloyd's story of intense obsession, learning every minor detail, watching every episode and finding acceptance among other fanboys and girls.
The show itself is sci-fi meets courtroom drama where Lloyd plays prosecutor, defence and witness. The case: Whether Doctor Who has cursed him with a debilitating obsession or made him into a well-rounded member of society.
He displays clearly his embarrassing stories and photos growing up as first a Sherlock Holmes fan then a Doctor Who fan in rural New South Wales.
Though some background Doctor Who knowledge would be helpful, you'll still be able to navigate your way through his story with little problem, as I did, only missing out on just a few jokes.
If you don't know Doctor Who you'll laugh because growing up maybe you too felt wondrous excitement when you finally found someone you can be your inner (or outer) nerd with. You'll laugh because maybe you too dressed up as your favourite characters as a kid, trawled video stores for the newest releases and scoured second-hand stores for rare books and merchandise.
But really, if you can name the 11 doctors faster than you can count to 11, Lloyd's show is written and performed remarkably well with you in mind.
The show runs until May 11 at The Basement in Auckland as part of 2013 New Zealand International Comedy Festival.