Edinburgh 2013: John Robins: Where Is My Mind?

  • @TextualHealing2

A former flatmate of a clutch of successful Bristol-based comics that included Russell Howard and Jon Richardson, John Robins could be the next of his peer group to go on to greater things.

The 30-year-old's fifth solo show is one of the most consistently pleasing hours on the Fringe this year, though there are structural concerns which would bother anyone looking for a rigorous theme and a thorough narrative arc.

Robins nostalgic attempt to 'reclaim' his late teenage years, initially through projecting a cool retrospective image of himself, but also by celebrating an actual, hard fought romantic success, doesn't quite mesh with the health concerns that have plagued him in later life ("I'm 250 years too young" he exclaims in hearing he has gout).

However, both distinct sections (albeit with the loosest connection of ageing) are held together by Robins' charmingly self-deprecation, his judicious use of asides ("quite the pre-industrial workout" he says of the hand coffee grinder he was given on his last birthday), and, conversely, his ability to let a gag make an impact without embroidering it too much, as his slipped disc sequence will testify.

Though not without intellectual flourish, Robins straightforward style is probably old fashioned by the measurement of what other 20 and early 30 somethings are doing on the Fringe. Unlike some others, however, Robins has a feast of anecdotes that have a ring of authenticity to them, even where they are likely to have been embellished.