So much of comedy is based on being able to identify with the comic on stage; to know which modern ‘tribe’ the stand-up comes from, and whether you share common sensibilities.
That is Robin Ince’s immediate strength. It doesn’t take long to identify him as an educated, white, middle-class, liberal atheist wracked by the guilt of his demographic. He is the Guardian comment pages made flesh, so you’ll know pretty quickly if this is for you.
He’s against the dumbed-down culture where everyone’s got an opinion and no one’s got any knowledge. He devours education and becomes excited by discovery, making him excitedly keen to share his ‘third favourite sloth fact’ and other such gems with the like-minded audience. If you’re on QI’s wavelength, you’re most likely to be into this, too.
The danger is that there can be a hint of smugness about the show, with Ince’s sociology-lecturer air and the obscure references you can congratulate yourself on getting. That’s before we get to the – admittedly deserved – air of superiority that you, like him, are not a foaming Middle England bigot or mindless follower of hocus-pocus fairytales such as religion, psychic mysticism, or Daily Mail editorial columns.
This DVD, filmed simply but effectively, includes plenty of shots of the audience nodding along in agreement with Ince’s train of thought. That seems to be just as important as the comedy, for while Ince can write a good joke, he’s happier explaining his worldview to his fellow travellers. He’s an engaging polemicist, though, and the DVD is as an entertaining a ride as it is a reassertion of sensible liberal values.Holocaust-denying evangelists who think the Grand Canyon was caused by Noah’s Arc might, however, disagree.
|Sample joke:‘Am I the only person who thinks terrorists would be more popular if they put fireworks in with their bombs?’|
|Extras: Half an hour of cut material|
|Recorded at: ChapterArts Centre, Cardiff|
|Main show running time: 69mins|
Release date: November 28, 2008
Robin Ince Is As Dumb As You: DVD review