Edinburgh Fringe Review 2019 – John Robins, Hot Shame, Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh Fringe Review 2019 – John Robins, Hot Shame, Pleasance Courtyard

There's a theory that the best stand-up comedy has to be relatable in some way. The centrepiece of John Robins' latest show Hot Shame is a story of how he dug a stress-based hole for himself when he had a spot of damp at home. The yarn involves researching reviews of humidifiers, hiring specialist plasterers and crumpling into a ball on the floor. Don't worry if you've not gone through this specific brand of trauma yourself though. It's absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious to hear Robins go through it on your behalf.

I'd never really thought of Robins as an anxious person before. He usually comes across in his Radio 5 chats with Elis James and onstage as your archetypal modern, beer-munching man, albeit a bit nerdy and quick to lose his rag over small things (ok, I suppose maybe does appear anxious). But Hot Shame lays bear his insecurities to brilliant effect. If he isn't worrying about his damp patches he is worrying about having the correct booking reference number on him when he goes on trips. I can certainly relate to this. On my way to Edinburgh I booked a reservation for my bike and when I tried to print it out the ink was a little faint so I also screengrabbed it and hand-wrote a version of the confirmation in case the original or the screengrab was unacceptable.

Anyway, enough about my insecurities and back to the show. Robins neatly punctuate his stories with readings from his book of "hot shame" - various accounts of behaviour over the years that has made him want to dig a hole and get into it. Shame is one of those horrible emotions that seems to have a life of its own. One only has to think fleetingly of a past embarrassing incident and shudders can ripple through your body again.

Elsewhere another stand-out anecdote involves a trip to snowed-in New York with Ed Gamble, Lloyd Langford and James Acaster that has already taken on legendary status. Gamble also talks about it in his show. Here Robins uses the incident to highlight various things. Firstly that he'd rather get his tax returns done than see a world class musical. Secondly that post-#metoo the dating game can be very tricky. 

I'd never really seen the similarity between Robins and Alan Partridge before, apart from the fact that they have bird-based surnames, but here Robins could be Partridge's more handsome cousin. He puts his foot in it, he's inappopriate, he gets worked up about inane trivia, he takes himself way too seriously. He can be ridiculously banal. The main difference is that Robins is better dressed and has a little more self-knowledge about his personality flaws. Not a lot of self-knowledge, but at least a little.

A riotously funny show whether you've ever thoroughly researched the reviews of humidifiers or not. 

John Robins, Hot Shame, Pleasance Courtyard until August 25. buy tickets here. Then touring, dates and tickets here.

Read more Edinburgh Fringe reviews here.




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