John Robins, Speakeasy, Edinburgh Fringe review: It's not what you say, but how you say it

Understated as he is, the 33-year-old is also an assured stage presence

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The Independent Culture

Boyishly handsome, mildly laddy, and serving up material about the trials of relationships and modern technology? Within the context of the current stand-up scene, John Robins is, on paper, unremarkable. And yet the 33-year-old proves it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.

His new show hinges on a quintessential 21st century pickle: the discovery that his girlfriend, away in Australia, has access to his internet search history via her Gmail account. But thinking beyond his personal quandary, he uses this as a springboard for a rumination on the false and ignoble impressions of ourselves we create online, whether through Facebook over-sharing or below-the-line commenting.

Such theorising may not be that novel, but he makes it feel box-fresh, via well-chosen examples – see a delicious decimation of his friend’s obnoxious Twitter profile – and an impassioned sincerity that gradually comes to the fore; a climactic anecdote about a plane encounter with two seemingly objectionable strangers is genuinely and unexpectedly moving.

Understated as he is, he is also an assured stage presence; an audience member’s unfortunately-timed toilet trip is expertly milked for laughs. Said girlfriend is fellow comic Sara Pascoe, incidentally; they make quite the gifted pair.