John Robins – The Darkness of Robins

The Darkness of Robins may have had the fastest turnaround of any stand-up show I’ve ever seen. Initially, Robins seemed awkward on the stage and honestly not very funny. It can’t have been two minutes before I was struggling to keep from bumping into the people next to me, which was made very difficult by how much I was laughing.

It almost feels like Robins’ open was a trick, fooling us into thinking this would be a pedestrian stand-up set so he could throw us off before revving up into a deliciously misanthropic tirade, deeply disdainful of the normal and happy.

The bulk of the show concerns the end of a long-term relationship and it’s disarmingly revealing. Robins is completely unconcerned with emotional vulnerability and he uses it like a scalpel, cutting away pretence and showmanship to mine truthfully morbid laughs from the depths of his psyche. He’s also utterly undeterred by awkward silence. Truthfully, he revels in it, allowing uncomfortable gaps to seethe and split until delivering the final blow to release waves of stupid guffaws from the crowd.

Miserable as the show is, Robins’ bitterly ironic deliverly always keeps things oddly light-hearted. It’s amazing to see someone manage to make some of the most emotionally devastating catastrophes imaginable so deeply, deeply funny. It might be the core of solid, human candour that makes it so funny in the end.

A completely miserable, utterly contemptuous, but beautifully sincere hour of comedy.

★★★★ and a half

Keiran Burnett