Rob Collins: Jesus Christ Flew Into the Cuckoo's Nest

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

You don’t have to be mad to have an angle for an Edinburgh show - but it helps.

Long-serving club comic Rob Collins had planned to bring a greatest hits package to the Fringe. But on March 31, he was bundled into an ambulance and taken to a psychiatric hospital, because he was convinced he was Jesus. In the medical terminology he uses, he went ‘batshit crazy’.

He had long suffered from bipolar disorder, which had been misdiagnosed as depression. He variously turned to drink, drugs and sex in a misguided attempt to escape it, while the medication he was given made his condition worse. It came to a head when he became certain that the charity work he did and his raging anger at Britain’s social injustice made him the Messiah. A manic Skype call, where he told his relatives of his plans to run for MP and to heal all the world’s ills with a mass hug, tipped them off that he might be a risk and really needed professional help.

But although Collins is disarmingly frank about his troubles, this is not an intense plunge into the darkness of the fragile human mind. In fact, there’s probably as much in the hour about the evil, greedy, inflexible tricksters at Ryanair as there is about mental health, thanks to his day from hell at an airport, a contributory caused to him hipping over the edge.

While you can take the comic out of the clubs, you can’t entirely take the club out of the comic, and Collins peppers the routine with some low-hanging gags, especially on a Biblical theme. But these are cheap baubles on a more classy show. It’s a cracking story, entertainingly and candidly told with natural self-effacing wit. Once Collins slows the frantically fast pace with which he kicks off the hour and shows the vulnerability that comes with his condition, he has the audience fully engrossed in his ups and downs. We’re so on his side that he can even elicit a cheer from a delayed fight.

The tale has a satisfying lump-in-the-throat happy ending, a room full of people uplifted because it looks like things are finally coming together for this warm, affable and genuine bloke with a witty way of spinning a yarn.

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Published: 17 Aug 2013

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