The winner of the Chortle Award for best compere in 2015, John Robins began comedy in spring 2005, and made his Edinburgh debut in 2007 as part of the prestigious Comedy Zone showcase. The following year, he teamed up with one of his contemporaries for Carl Donnelly vs John Robins vs Predator, before making his solo debut in 2009.
John Robins Videos
John Robins: This Tornado Loves You
Now settled in a happy relationship, John Robins acknowledges the theory that contentment is not the best starting point for great art. It's not impossible though, there are some joyous shows based on personal contentment.
But when you're taking on a topic as well covered and potentially clichéd as love you'd best make it damn good. What Robins creates is amusing, but it's not about to blow any minds.
He doesn't help himself when he argues you cannot be edgy about the establishment when it is paying your wages using 'millionaire comedian' Stewart Lee to illustrate his point. Robins argues that Lee's attack of the corporate nature of comedy, especially during the Fringe, when he is a successful comedian with a TV vehicle is insincere. It's somewhat disingenuous as Robins has overlooked a few facts – not least Lee’s own concession that TV has changed his status with audiences. But the rant is at least nice nod to the fact that Lee disparages other comedians in his own act. These are all teasing jokes on both sides.
However using a comic as inventive and original comedian as Lee unfortunately serves to highlights some of the flaws in Robins’s own material – even though this is not a bad show at all.
His deconstruction of the transition stage in a relationship, from the initial hormonal rush to settling into the less excitable sort of love evocatively expressed - from the frustration of an unsponged white wine spill on the carpet to a momentary revelation while stood in a patch of sunlight in the kitchen of how happy you are.
The allure of French girls on an exchange trip to the 14-year-old Robins is also nicely executed, drawing a lovely image of the gauche young Brit making a fool of himself in a second language.
However Robins does dare to step into the hack realm of 'my girlfriend gets a bit crazy when it's her time of the month', which disappoints.
Elsewhere the rather cynical pussy line (where a comedian pretends to be one of three different personas in an attempt to woo the women in the room) routine becomes a callback with great effect.
This particular performance wasn't helped by matters beyond Robins' control: A man came in 15 minutes into the show and sat on the front row, stayed for 20 minutes, then in an outstanding show of rudeness got up to leave with the words, 'The rain's stopped now'. Robins was visibly affected by it – who wouldn't be? – but recovered and soldiered on. And this in the Pleasance, not a free venue when such interruptions are an occupational hazard.
Overall, it's a funny but somewhat underwhelming show; the kind of material that goes down well in a club set on a rowdy weekend, but a bit pedestrian. Robins could do with finding a topic with more substance for next year, though hopefully not at the expense of his contentment.
John Robins Dates
Sun 5 Jul 2015Book Now
- Leicester Square Theatre
- £16 (£13 concs)
- Alex Edelman, Ali Brice, Amy Howerska, Beth Vyse, Damien Slash, Dane Baptiste, Danielle Ward, Ed Aczel, Fin Taylor, Hal Cruttenden, Jack Barry, John Hastings, John Robins, Kevin Day, Michael J Dolan, Nish Kumar, Phil Jerrod, Tez Ilyas, Arthur Smith (MC)
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