ARTS CENTRE: More than just a laugh – Robin Ince

robin-ince-2ROBIN Ince is multitalented; able to put his name to comedy, TV and radio, amongst other things. He is also known for being unafraid to voice his opinion on matters such as politics and religion.

Despite this, he is not aggressive, confrontational or offensive.  In fact, he is unassuming in appearance, and eager to have a friendly chat – at the start of his show he offered to meet people in the bar if they wanted him to expand on anything, and he stressed that he doesn’t pick on people, valuing rather than ridiculing audience participation. Audience participation of an informal kind was entirely possible at this show, as the room was barely half full. Ince’s instant likeability and the intimate atmosphere because of the smaller audience created a relaxed environment, and he needed little in the way of a warm-up to get everyone laughing.

Ince’s comedy style is fresh and interesting, and very welcome in a scene that has become somewhat clogged with observational comedy. He talks about science, religion and the natural world, and relates this to everyday life. If that inspires thoughts of ‘Oh no/great, it’s just like The Big Bang Theory!’ then stop right there.

Ince’s comedy requires a lot more brain power than watching said TV show, and there is no laughter track to let you know when something’s meant to be funny. That said, it can be viewed as being quite niche – I personally found that some jokes went over my head as they relied on more than just a basic knowledge of some aspects of science.

The majority of the audience were made up of people who did understand, which suggests that Ince has built up a close fan base, particularly because of his science-based show on Radio 4. Although a slight issue, this did make it more interesting for people like me, as I left having learnt something.

Ince’s delivery was a highlight; he was energetic, pacing and jumping around the stage from the very start, humorously impersonating notable figures, and casually telling anecdotes about chatting with people like Richard Dawkins. He seemed to want to talk about a lot more than he could fit into two hours, which was a little frustrating because he kept darting back and forth between topics, often getting lost and not quite finishing his original point.

An advocate for the importance of science in our everyday lives, Ince clearly wanted to educate his audience, and a lot of his material was fascinating as well as funny, making for a good night. So, if you want to get more out of a comedy show than simply sitting back and being encouraged to laugh, then Robin Ince is the person to go to.