John Robins: Speakeasy

Although still in the premature stages of the festival being fully ignited, there is a very keen and sizeable crowd who have come to see John Robins in what is a lecture room cowboyed into a comedy venue, not necessarily ideal if one would wish to escape hemmed in the corner. But it’s very quickly established that is not a fear anyone is going to have to worry about.

As a guilty confession, I had never seen nor heard of Robins prior to this year’s Fringe, although established, I was seeing his show Speakeasy on a bit of a whim. Very quickly there’s likability to his slacker adult appearance and persona. As he jests, he’s bringing the good vibes and does so in abundance. You already feel you’ve been warmed up and in the middle of a good set but he’s barely begun when most comedians are nervously trying to suss the audience. Robins seems a good mile ahead with some good hearty laughs from the whole audience.

Robins’ narrative centers upon his girlfriend leaving him for four weeks and how she stumbled upon his recent Internet history. By no means unfamiliar territory but Robins handles it so that it’s not tired rhetoric about one man’s porn history and disgruntled girlfriend. It weaves off into a commentary upon personas assimilated on the internet versus the actual reality of people. It isn’t hard hitting anthropological satire, but it’s canny and suggests that there’s more to the concept of a man who wants a good sesh with some lads.

Whilst there be a few blemishes in his hour, forgetting his material strategised for call-backs he was banking on. The admission of his mistakes draws much amusement and is all forgivable, this is still a preview show after all. A lot of his contemporaries of the jeans and t-shirt era frantically storm their stage like a sugar fuelled ADHD kid. There’s a smoothness, subtle physical nuances and heightened wordplay that sets him apart, in a good way.

Speakeasy is a good solid piece of stand up. But for an Edinburgh show it’s missing a crescendo and he admits it. Potentially as a result of a fairly thin narrative and theme that ties the hour together it’s the one major flaw of the show. Regardless there is a lot of evidence to suggest that John Robins deserves to be a name in comedy worth talking about. Effortlessly funny.


Chris Aitken

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