There’s no doubt about it: John Robins is a witty, talented comedian with the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand. His sell-out show at Leeds City Varieties is aptly titled The Darkness of Robins, and it certainly is just that towards the end of the second half.
Though the first half of Robins’ set is much less polished, it contains lighter and fresher content. Robins engages with the audience and his unscripted banter and wit shines through and demonstrates just how brilliant he is. A clever mechanic to quiz himself on his own life, Mastermind style, is hilariously funny and self-deprecating. Self-deprecation is all very well and good in the first half, though awkward and rather desperate self-loathing shines through much more greatly after the interval when he enters the darker half of his set.
Most of his scripted material is centred solely around his girlfriend leaving him in 2016. Whilst some of the routine is observational, witty and attracts well-deserved roars of laughter (his pro and con list of living alone will strike a chord with anyone who has ever been in his situation), some of the comedy is sadly a little flat. I don’t want to know the poor man screams at himself in a mirror and has a panic attack after shopping in IKEA… and though I’m aware, of course, that these snippets are amplified and observed purely for comedic purposes, I still personally find it slightly uncomfortable. It’s kind of like watching your mate slowly overshare after one too many pints.
Hopefully Robins’ next tour will focus less on grief and heartache, and more on a bright future. The Lightness of Robins, anyone?