Robin Ince: Pragmatic Insanity | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney
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Robin Ince: Pragmatic Insanity

Note: This review is from 2017

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review by Paul Fleckney

Like a moth to the flame, Robin Ince has returned to stand-up two years after his last gigs, and three years after his last Edinburgh show. Considering he’s a comic who has an actual following, the Stand 2 is an oddly small choice of venue for his comeback. But it’s something to be thankful for, even if it means his forceful delivery in such a tiny room is a bit of a blunderbuss at times.

Ince hasn’t been working on his onstage focus in his time away. He flits and flusters between topics, constantly interrupting himself and stressing about time and which stories to ditch and which to go with. It’s what he does, of course, but it was to the detriment of the show when I saw him. 

When he actually settled on a thread, there were some juicy subjects and amusing moments, notably the science march he went on with his nine-year-old son. Peter Capaldi was also there pounding the pavement, leading to an excellent aside on how Doctor Who pedants almost want the show to be bad – ‘anticipointment’ as he calls it.

Being 48 years and losing loved ones is unsurprisingly on Ince’s mind, too. He takes an unusual angle on how you measure ‘success’ at his age, and issues a bitter tirade to the games captains he went to school with who peaked too soon in life. You might have thought he’d have got over that by now, but clearly not. The subject of mortality returns at the end of the show with a story that, perhaps uniquely, combines poignancy with bowel problems. 

The most interesting part for me was his section on hypocrisy and the impossibility of being left-wing and retaining any credibility at all, when you’re under attack from both right and left for supposed infractions. The issue of how to be a good person seems to be preoccupying liberal comics at the moment, and Ince has the beginnings of a show on it, but alas not this time (I wanted to hear more about the panel show he was invited to do with Katie Hopkins). 

Then he talked about ghosts for a bit, and suicide … I mean, it’s possible that you see a completely different show to the one I did. It’s as if Pragmatic Insanity is a "choose your own adventure" show, except it’s Ince who does all the choosing. In fact, it’s not just one show, it’s about six of the buggers, and all badly in need of an editor.

Review date: 9 Aug 2017
Reviewed by: Paul Fleckney

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