Punchline recommends John Robins, Hot Shame

21 Aug

John RobinsWords by Suzy Romer

John Robins is a performer who manages to usher us into his very brain in order to perceive life as he does. Given how much he worries and frets, there is a certain mystery in his ability to make this shared experience so laugh-out-loud funny. Some of his greatest worries this year have been about holiday photos, treating damp and buying coffee, and he explores them with an engaging, meticulous attention that he clearly applies to everything he regards as important in life.

If the title of his show does not produce a visceral reaction in you, then his stand-up material certainly will. He punctuates his main show with cringing confessional stories from childhood and beyond about mistakes and misunderstandings that continue to bring him agonies of shame when he recalls them. Some of the memories are so personal that I sincerely hope he gets some sort of closure by sharing them with a room of guffawing strangers. He knows how to tell a seemingly everyday story in staggering detail with a level of analysis that makes me ache with exasperation that he puts himself through it all, even as I laugh out loud along with the rest of the theatre. He is a master of making himself the butt of his own jokes and we love and respect him for it.

The show covers some controversial subjects of recent times (diversity and #MeToo are particularly notable) and deals with them from a self-conscious position as a privileged white male with sensitivity and a delicious quivering humour that is both hyper-aware and exquisitely nuanced. It makes a welcome, refreshing contrast to the blunt extremes of social media that distort real people into barking caricatures. The only barking in John Robin’s show comes from the yelps of delight and steady laughter at his frank admissions and highly accomplished material.

Buy tickets for John Robins, Hot Shame here

7.30pm | Pleasance Courtyard | Until 25 Aug

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