Review: John Robins, Latitude 2017

Update 23/8/17: This is a review of an early version of John Robins' Edinburgh Fringe show that has been nominated for a Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Show. See nominees here.

The blurb for John Robins' Edinburgh Fringe show The Darkness of Robins describes it as "London's saddest DJ yells into a well for 55 minutes." So presumably what Robins did at Latitude was an excerpt from this, as after a very loud musical intro which seemed to bugger up the sound equipment for the next act, it mainly featured Robins yelling at the well-heeled audience for thirty minutes.

The ardent Queen fan (he wears a yellow Freddie Mercury jacket onstage) kicked off his set by pointing out what an annus horribilis 2016 was in terms of celeb deaths before going on the explain that it was even worse for him because – spoiler alert – his girlfriend moved out.* What follows is essentially a very shouty cost/benefit analysis balance sheet of the pros and cons of the post-break up single life.

It is not all bad. He knows where the phone charger is now and he doesn't have to worry about his partner losing her debit card yet again. Self-styled legend Robins, who may be slightly on the anal side, points out that he has not lost his debit card since he first acquired one in 1994 (the year they were launched in the UK, natch). His erstwhile partner, meanwhile, has not updated her banking details, so her replacement cards keep coming to his address, which he has dubbed Grief Mansions, rubbing salt into the already festering emotional wounds.

The show is an interesting development for Robins, who is currently riding high career-wise thanks to his radio partnership with Elis James. Their double act has spawned sell-out live shows and countless in-jokes and catchphrases. Robins' new solo show is a different beast altogether. There are hints of Nick Helm here in the stand-up tragedy narrative (and echoes of Richard Herring in the shouting) but Robins make this his own with some wise and witty insights.

Yes, he can now go to burlesque shows if he wants to, but then as he adds, "no one likes burlesque". We all ultimately want connections, not no-strings-attached lust. And despite the bravado and rage this half hour sadcom ends on a plaintive, poignant note. You'll have to pay for a ticket to find out what that is. 

Read more Latitude 2017 reviews here. 


*Further spoiler alert - he doesn't mention her by name, but you could always google "John Robins girlfriend" if you are interested in that sort of thing. 


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