John Robins: The Darkness of Robins

comedy review | Read in About 2 minutes
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John Robins
Published 17 Aug 2017

Developing into one of the most prodigiously capable, self-aware comics at mining his deep-rooted feelings of shame, John Robins' true darkness has nevertheless been predominantly kept at bay by his relationship. Well, until recently. Dumped at Christmas, he's responded with a defiantly entertaining, hour-long howl of pain.

Scarcely bothering to project a brave face, he's concocted little songs and coping mechanisms to stave off the anguish, their ineffectiveness attested to by the rictus grin that can't keep his features from falling. Existing alone in a house he must shortly vacate, Robins highlights all the territorial gains he's made since his girlfriend left, the plug sockets reclaimed, the fiscal control resumed, the pathos of his little empire writ large.

Meanwhile, he's reminded that the only person guaranteed never to leave is himself. Preferring a compact circle of acquaintances, he's forced to meet friends of friends, their contented, middle-class, ornamental-lentil-and-foldable-bike existence an affront to his more precarious grip on sanity. A trip to IKEA sparks a full-bore, existential crisis, his inability to make even the most straightforward of purchasing decisions paralysing.

Life, he concludes, isn't like the comforting building society commercials. So he strives to bring them closer, the melancholic details of his alternative advert testifying to the wound in his heart but the readiness of his bleak humour. Although it isn't essential to know that Robins' ex is fellow comic Sara Pascoe, their respective responses to the break-up do make for compelling companion shows.