REVIEW: John Robins: Hot Shame @ The Brighton Dome, 29/11/2019

CREDIT: John Robins

Award winning comedian John Robins unashamedly brings awkward anecdotes and dark twists to Brighton on his new stand up tour

After winning the Edinburgh Comedy Award in 2017 and touring multiple critically-acclaimed shows around the country, John Robins has proved that he can turn the most mundane aspects of everyday life into immersive comedy routines. And with another hit show on the road, I was interested to see what he would bring to the table at The Brighton Dome. 

Robins was introduced by Robin Allender. He cleverly used music in his jokes to create bizarre scenarios, such as playing an historical podcast at a nightclub and describing his experience with depression over Love Shack by The B-52’s. 

After an interval, Robins began his set by questioning what kind of man he wants to be. This is something he believes is important in today’s society. He described himself as a “millennium man”, characterised by questionable fashion choices and crying during films. This transitioned into a routine about meeting a woman at a bar in New York. However, he finds himself unable to flirt due to their conversation about recent sexual assault allegations in Hollywood. (His overbearing obsession with The Silence Of The Lambs doesn’t help him either). 

In between jokes, he read an embarrassing anecdote from a diary titled “Hot Shame”. They ranged from cancelling a gig to play online golf to failing to flirt with a childhood crush. They helped maintain the momentum of the show.

The second half was consumed by one lengthy joke, boasting Robins’ talent for storytelling. He chronicled his desire for a tumble dryer and the hours spent researching dehumidifiers on online forums. Then an emasculating conversation with a builder, his genius home improvement idea and its inevitable failure. The joke became increasingly convoluted and dark, ending with him drinking alone on the floor and threatening to kill himself. It’s a saddening and pathetic spectacle, but it makes him all the more sympathetic. 

Shame is something we’re all familiar with. Robins approached it from every angle. He reveals every humiliating experience of his life to the audience in the hope that we can identify with him, all while making his audience howl with laughter. It’s something I have nothing but respect for.

Orlando Glendenning

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