Search Shows

Robin Ince's Christmas Book Club 2006

Robin Ince's Christmas Book Club 2006

Show type: Misc live shows

A special one off Book Club celebrating the joys of Christmas and the terrible books that spring forth at this time of year. Oh the dire stocking fillers we have to pretend to be overjoyed with. Plus Christmas accordion covers, Christmas stand up, and a general overbearing air of Christmas PLUS Christmas Mills and Boon.



Original Review:

From modest beginnings, Robin Ince’s Book Club has attracted enough like-minded souls for Edinburgh runs, a national tour and now this Christmas special in a proper theatre in London’s literary district, a world away from its usual ram-packed basement bar home.

The show is at the vanguard of a new alternative in comedy, appealing to those who’d consider it abhorrent to spend a boozy night at a corporate chain, hearing boastful yet familiar tales of drunkenness, masturbating and smoking dope, however professionally delivered.

Yes, the night is unashamedly middle-class; yes it can strikes a sneery note in its elitism; and yes, some acts fall flat as the clever ideas aren’t matched by solid jokes – but the clubby atmosphere of audience and performers being on the same wavelength is what sustains it. Where else could you hear bantered insults that rely on a knowledge of Steinbeck novels, see the word game Boggle played live and have a character act fill with liberal angst over whether he’s coming across as racist.

With the Christmas special, Ince has created the first Sarcastic Variety Performance, supervising a parade of acts from whimsical stand-ups to good ole-fashioned tap dancers and opera singers. Between the turns, he reads from literature so bad it needs very little than unintended inflection to expose its clunking prose. From the deluded pomposity of Seventies C-listers to the awkward metaphors of a Mills and Boon scribe, there are few books on the charity-shop shelf that avoid Ince’s withering scorn.

Tonight, the books are arranged on a festive mantelpiece, as Ince, in his silk dressing-gown, prepares to settle into his favourite armchair to devour his latest showbiz memoirs but is forever interrupted by a string of guest stars ringing his novelty doorbell, in true Val Doonican style – although Val was never quite so dismissive about the obvious conceit.

The guest list is long, too long, in fact, but then it wouldn’t be the Book Club if the evening didn’t overrun dreadfully, with its share of ups and downs, too. But that’s the nature of the unpredictable beast. As Ince put it, it’s like a variety show when one minute you have the King Singers, the next Myra Hindley.

Highlights included James Bachman’s despotic African dictator Papa Christmas (the source of those fears over racism); the talented Isy Suttie’s delightfully witty songs; the perfectly-crafted one-liners of Simon Munnery Tom Meeten’s Animal Man with a dark side, Howard Read’s terrifying lullaby and Book Club stalwart Josie Long, whose stand-up set that mostly involved her singing dancefloor tunes with rather less sexually aggressive swagger than originally intended.

But Peter Buckley-Hill seemed unsure of himself, bumbling through what seemed like a perfectly decent comic song; Chris Neill was terribly self-indulgent before his ever-reliable routine from Jodie Marsh’s autobiography; a gag involving Johnny Candon was too much of an in-joke even for the Book Club (which is going some); and Martin White murdered All I Want For Christmas, bashed its bloody corpse around with his accordion before dumping its lifeless form into the canal.

Variety acts offered a change of pace and sense of occasion, including a silly mime from two-thirds of The Trap and the bizarre sight of Susan Vale reading from fat cockney entertainer Arthur Mullard’s memoirs before tapdancing while simultaneously scoffing a Yule log – a turn which outdid even ‘freakazoid’ comedy duo Gawakagogo’s Elvis-Elephant Man hybrid Ellyvis for utter strangeness. Praise, too, goes to the eerily downbeat Phil Jeays Band for entering the spirit of things, being berated for their utterly miserable songs before reluctantly playing something vaguely up-tempo.

The night was brought to a close by one of Danielle Ward’s Take A Break Tales – although not, apparently, called that any more for legal reasons. This retelling of the Nativity story in typically brutal style – with bleakness and misery treated as lightly as it is in women’s weekly magazines – is unlikely to be used in any primary schools soon. It might not fill you with festive cheer, but it was perfectly in keeping with the spirit of this experimental, entertaining and fleetingly inspired, night.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Date of review: Dec 2006


Show Dates



This comic also appears in:

An Hour With Danielle Ward and Roisin Conaty

Audience With Josie Long And Dan Nightingale

Chris Neill - Middle Class Misery: The Board Game

Howard Read: 2005 Comeback Special

Howard Read: The Little Howard Appeal

Robin Ince is as Dumb as You

Simon Munnery's AGM

The Book Club

The Comedy Zone

Isy Suttie: The Actual One

Josie Long: Something Better

Robin Ince Is In And Out Of His Mind

Robin Ince's Bad Book Club autumn 2010 tour

Robin Ince: Happiness Through Science

Robin Ince: Pragmatic Insanity

Robin Ince: The Importance Of Being Interested

Bernie Clifton

Dirty Book Club

Everybody Hates Chris (Neill)

Josie Long: Kindness and Exuberance

Robin Ince Isn't Waving

Simon Munnery's Annual General Meeting

Take A Break Tales

The Adventures Of Bitter & Twisted

The Book Club

Big Value Comedy Show Late

Little Howard and Big Howard: At Home With The How

Simon Munnery's AGM

Simon Munnery: Buckethead

The Award Winning Robin Ince ­ Star Of The Off

Simon Munnery: Trilogy

The Big Howard and Little Howard Show

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Chris Neill Does It With Strangers

Howard Read: Words And Pictures

Simon Munnery: Noble Thoughts Of A Noble Mind

The Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers

Big Value Comedy Show... Late

Hegley's Journals and Playlet With Simon Munnery


The Comedy Clone

A Seriously Funny Attempt To Get The SFO in The Dock

Book Club At The British Library

Chris Neill: Bearded Wonder

Comedy HayDay

Doug & Josie: The Let’s Go Adventure Tour

Ha Ha Hammersmith II

Latitude 2008

Malcolm Hardee Charity Cabaret 2007

Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Robin and Josie's Shambles

Robin Ince: Dancing Idiotically Towards An Apocalypse Of Our Own Making

School For Gifted Children

Stand Up Get Down


Ten Best Stand-ups In The World Ever. Gig 1

Book Club: All-New Fighting Years

Danielle Ward: Psister Psycho

Howard Read: Light, Shade, Lemonade

Isy Suttie: Love Lost In The British Retail Industry

Johnson and Boswell: Late But Live

Josie Long: Trying Is Good

Little Howard And The Magic Pencil Of Life And Death

Robin Ince Knew This Would Happen

Simon Munnery: Annual General Meeting 2007

Stand Up For Animals

Book Club [2008]

Chris Neill's Got A Bun In The Oven

Danielle Ward In Glorious Technicolor

Edinburgh and Beyond 2008

Elizabeth And Raleigh: Late But Live

Isy Suttie: The Suttie Show

Josie Long And Special Guests Mucking About

Josie Long: All Of The Planet’s Wonders (Shown In Detail)

Robin Ince: Propaganda and Tittletattle

Robin Ince: Things I Like About Carl Sagan And Others

Simon Munnery: Annual General Meeting 2008

This Show Belongs To Lionel Richie No 3: Up Arthurs Seat

Aaaaaaaaaarrghh! It's Bollock Relief

Carl Sagan Is My God, Oh And Richard Feynman Too

Danielle Ward: Lies

Robin Ince Versus The Moral Majority

Robin Ince: Bleeding Heart Liberal

Simon Munnery's AGM09

Josie Long's Monsters Of Whimsy

Josie Long: Be Honourable!

Karaoke Circus

Robin Ince And Michael Legge: Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire

Robin Ince Asks Why?

Robin Ince: Carl Sagan Is Still My God

Simon Munnery: Self-employed

Stand-Up For African Mothers

Ward and White's Project Ace

Get Up, Stand Up! Gala

Isy Suttie: Pearl And Dave

Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place

Little Howard's Big Show

Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire 2: Back in the Habit

Robin Ince's Struggle for Existence

Robin Ince: Carl Sagan is My God, Oh and Richard Feyman Too

Robin Ince: Star Corpse Apple Child

Simon Munnery: Hats Off For The 101ers, And Other Material

Danielle Ward: Play Dead

Danielle Ward: Speakeasy

Do The Right Thing

Gareth Morinan Presents the Saturday Debates

Josie Long and Sam Schäfer's Awkward Romance

Josie Long: Romance and Adventure

Simon Munnery's La Concepta

Simon Munnery: Fylm-Makker

This Arthur's Seat Gala Belongs To Lionel Richie

Do The Right Thing [2013]

Howard Read: Hide and Speak

Robin Ince: The Importance of Being Interested [2013 Fringe]

Simon Munnery: Fylm

BBC: The Infinite Monkey Cage

Free Gaza!

Fylm School

Josie Long: Cara Josephine

Michael Legge and Robin Ince Are Pointless Anger, Righteous Ire 3: Ooh Stick You, Your Mama Too... and Your Daddy

Robin Ince’s Blooming Buzzing Confusion

Simon Munnery Sings Soren Kierkegaard

Slight Ache

Danielle Ward: Dani Frankenstein

Howard Read: Man (Work in Progress)

Simon Munnery's Fylm School

Simon Munnery: And Nothing But

Danielle Ward: Seventeen

Josie Long and Martin Williams: Investigations

Josie Long: Work In Progress

Nina Conti and Simon Munnery Whack It Up The Flagpole

Simon Munnery and Friends: 30 Not Out

Simon Munnery: Standing Still

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.