John Robins @ Pleasance Courtyard

An endlessly relatable hour of crippling shame from 2017 Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Robins

Review by Polly Glynn | 15 Aug 2019
  • John Robins @ Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh Comedy Award winner John Robins depicts a life full of shameful incidents in his latest Fringe outing. It will come as no surprise to devotees of his podcast with Elis James that Robins is a worrier supreme. In Hot Shame, Robins reveals the extent to which his awkwardness attracts even more peril, albeit (unsurprisingly) failing to reach the same levels of heart-wrenching as in the award-winning The Darkness of Robins

The structure’s far from sophisticated with Robins defecting to his book of shame between each anecdote, and each anecdote feeling like a well-honed club twenty. It also seems incongruous that a man with such anxiety is proffering his embarrassments to over 300 people each night. However, each tale is a scathing exploration of what others would consider minimal thought processes, heightened by Robins’ withering commentary of his own mental state. 

Some may feel that the comic is too hard on himself, but Robins uses it to his advantage; particularly in what should be an incredulously dull dehumidifier story. Ramping up each embarrassment to maximum anxiety, Hot Shame leaves some audience members writhing in the aisles, nonetheless hysterical in recognition and/or empathy. His endearing stream of consciousness helps too, second-guessing all his behaviours and emotions and ratcheting from each sensible decision to the next unthinkable one. As a result, Robins has a canny knack of delivering comedy in real-time, adding a personal touch to proceedings.

John Robins: Hot ShamePleasance Courtyard (Pleasance One), until 25 Aug, 7.30pm, £13-15