Comedy review: John Robins
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: John Robins – Where Is My Mind? at Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), reviewed by Jay Richardson
Never look back is the message of John Robins’s latest thoughtful hour, or at least don’t romanticise the past. Early on in his show, he adopts the brash alter ego of Zach Dudington, a cocky “douchebag” fending off the ladies and lording it over the crowd. A mild gambit, not everyone seems to appreciate the irony in the skinny 30-year-old’s grandstanding and he has to work a bit to establish the disparity between the pseudonym and his distinctly non-alpha male reality.
With a series of increasingly unlikely health complaints, the hesitant heterosexual was bullied at school for being gay and was only saved from mullet-sporting dweebiness by an introduction to indie music, and specifically, The Pixies. In the Proustian moments of him hearing their music, he’s transported back to 24 August, 2001 at Reading Festival, the end of his adolescence and the happiest day of his life.
Recounting an idyllic tale of romance, it never gets too fairytale as Robins dorkishly acknowledges the drug use of everyone around him in a strained effort to be hip. Beneath all the status games he’s playing though, he’s never as assured as Dudington or as wretched as his younger self, alternately embracing, contrasting and confusing the personas. For instance, at the point he begins bragging about his reverse parking abilities, he relates being brought painfully back down to size, part of a section on his medical history that’s conveyed with apposite self-deprecation.
Such episodes of humiliation are as impossible to banish from memory as the warm glow of his Reading experience. Yet both could be as distant from reality as the Dudington and dweeb distortions of his character. For in truth, Robins is an accomplished, affable stand-up who with relatively little fuss or exposure, seems to have settled into a groove of just producing humane, interesting and consistently funny shows. Where Is My Mind? is an hour for anyone still pining for the one that got away.
MORE INFO: John Robins – Where Is My Mind? is at Pleasance Courtyard
Originally published in The Scotsman