top of page

Review: Clinton Baptiste - Roller Ghoster (UK and Ireland tour)

Review by Sam Waite




Some characters make such a deep impression on audiences that their cultural presence extends beyond the media they appear in. Sacha Baron Cohen, for example, likely won’t need to create any more characters in his lifetime, audiences happy to keep the memories of Borat and Ali G alive far longer than anyone could have predicted. Similarly, actor and comedian Alex Lowe’s early-aughts creation, Clinton Baptiste, is alive and well two decades later in his new tour Roller Ghoster.


Clinton Baptiste is “a medium… and a psychic!” and isn’t particularly good at what he does. First seen in Peter Kay’s Phoenix Nights, Lowe’s deliberately-naff creation has successfully translated into podcasting, YouTube videos, and numerous live appearances in the Baptiste role, including the ongoing Roller Ghoster tour. The shtick people know is what they’re there for, and the overdramatised campiness has the crowd delighted from the moment Lowe takes to the stage – this is for the fans, who are out in full force and delighted to see an old favourite still thriving… or at least still going.

The rest of us, myself being too young to get Phoenix Nights if I’d been allowed to watch it, must have minds as open as Clinton’s third eye, and the evening is still largely enjoyable. Our headliner first appears via pre-recorded voiceover – he is in his dressing room making sure the aforementioned eye is sufficiently wide-open before gracing us with his presence, and hopes we will be welcoming to opener Mike Cox. Cox is the sort of everyman comedian who is fairly likable if a touch unoriginal in his material. After drumming up support with his comparisons of primary school in his youth to the more secure pick-ups of today, a tasteless joke about gender identity is an unfortunate end to the set – “the only way you’d see a fox in school now, is if one of the kids identified as one,” he chuckled, as my face flattened in dismay.


Mr Baptiste has his fair share of outdated statements to make – a brief interlude discussing how to properly address Inuit peoples is fairly awkward – but the joke is most definitely at the character’s expense, and when that’s clear the blow is decidedly softened. His routine is a mix of stand-up comedy and crowd work, walking through the front row to throw jabs at some audience members and entendre-laden compliments to others, as well as the requisite claims to be able to commune with the spirits and to see into the future. The sudden jumps in pitch and overdone offence at any suggestion that he is not a legitimate, nay a brilliant medium are obviously beloved hallmarks of the Baptiste roll, garnering constant roars of applause from his adoring public.

Lowe’s commitment to the character is impressive, not only for the longevity of the role but for his remaining completely in character for the 90-minute set. Baptiste seems as exhausting to be as he would be to spend one-on-one time with, a shrieking, self-important diva who is appalled with those who don’t believe his hype. This commitment is a continuous high-point for the performance, with even the crowd-work, calling out audience behaviour and responding to heckling, coming in character. “Shouldn’t I know?” he repeats after an audience member whose name he’s asked for their rude outburst, before promptly deflecting with a generic insult. It’s utterly daft, but it did get a genuine chuckle out of me!


I’ll be the first to admit, Roller Ghoster wasn’t always a winner for me, but also to own up to being entirely underprepared. It’s one thing to turn up to The Eras Tour armed only with a few listens to ‘Midnights’ and ‘Evermore’, but the Clinton Baptiste experience is inexorably linked to knowledge of the character – the broader strokes of comedy landed without fail, such as the triumphant attempt at a premature ending when he genuinely guessed the name of an audience member on the first try, but the specificities and tics were the makeup of an act most in the crowd were already familiar with, and who many had been fans of for longer than others had been alive.


All this to say that Roller Ghoster is a roaring success at what is it, despite what it is not having connected quite so fully with myself. Fans of Lowe, or simply of the Baptiste character, have been and, my third eye tells me, continue to be enraptured by the tour, and by the future escapades of one of our nation's leading “medium psychics.” Lowe’s enthusiasm is magnetic and his dedication to his character and his supporters is delightful to see – if you’re a Phoenix Nights fan, or is Clinton Baptiste has brought you joy in the past, I can’t see any reason why this winning combination of nostalgia and naughtiness wouldn’t be a fabulous night at the theatre.

Roller Ghoster continues to tour until November

For tickets and information visit



bottom of page