I wrote this review of Robin Ince’s work in progress gig in Falmouth’s Beer Wolf Books in February 2014, but due to some-or-other constraints it was never published, so I figured I’d put it up here (with a couple of tweaks, but not much really, too tired-making)… Enjoy.
The show Robin Ince brought to Beerwolf Books was a work in progress: an attempt, he explained in his preamble, to escape from some of the pressures of writing comedy about science, and instead to get passionate about the human mind.
Passion is certainly something that the comedian has animatedly illustrating anecdotes that range from Brian Blessed shocking Radio 4 audiences to mooning Wolverhampton hen parties and the aggressive traits of spider monkeys.
The pace was frenetic, but with obvious thought, dropping in references to philosophers such as Nietzche and Zizek, LSD visionary Timothy Leary, and Nick Cave (look them up for yourself, you lazy lot); Ince is a comedian who should come with a reading list, or at the very least footnotes.
He had brought his own fair share of footnotes, brandishing a sheaf of papers with, apparently, 78 points he wished to cover, and in the interval could be seen studiously making more notes.
However with a wide range of non-sequiturs which had the audience laughing uproariously, and by developing themes such as animal psychology, human notions of self identity and our concept of emotion in surprisingly witty and insightful ways, he soon fell well behind his own self appointed schedule.
In an intro to the second half, this thinking-man’s comedian issued a clarion call to end dumbing-down of culture, the talking-down to people which is the policy of many entertainment outlets, calling on people to engage their brains unashamedly.
He then skipped through or over several points he would not have time for, ‘idiots stealing our culture’ seemed particularly promising, and headed into the territory of human self-perception: including his own comedically crippling, stereotypically English fear of ever truly letting oneself go.
The show lasted two and a half hours, but never dragged, and when time was called it left the crowd wanting more, and there was undoubtedly plenty of material left over
The setting suited the performer’s style too, the small, bookish atmosphere creating a relatively intimate atmosphere which led to a sense of connection between audience and comedian.
One of the points raised during the show was the failure of much modern culture to really elicit a wow-factor from people, but Robin Ince’s performance at Beerwolf certainly had that. If he manages to pack all the ideas from this Falmouth show into a reasonable length comedy set, then his upcoming In and Out of His Mind show should be a sure-fire winner.
Sadly that tour is not scheduled to include Falmouth, but at the end of the show there were strong hints that he would be returning to the town in the not-too-distant future.