Comedy review: John Robins: Hot Shame, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) ****
Robins identifies as a millennial man and did so even before the millennium. By the end of this confessional, painfully funny collection of stories and memories from Robins’s neurotic head and open heart, the audience is not so much engaged as planning our first anniversary celebrations with him.
Agony and hilarity alternate in this anecdotal hour studded with extracts from a book entitled “Hot Shame”. Stories of travelling to New York with a group of comics, the politico-sexual minefield of hooking up with a woman in a bar and the trouble with dehumidifiers are given unexpected layers of laughter, thanks to Robins’ almost constant inner turmoil. He panics about everything. Reference numbers, draft phase opinions and crispy towels are each at the core of a comedy volcano of panic and disaster described by Robins so pitch-perfectly that you spend an hour loving every second of the exquisite agony of not knowing whether to laugh or cry.
It is all delivered with apparent honesty and openness – especially the parts read from the Hot Shame book which are not played for laughs and are only funny because they are gloriously awful. As emotional engagement goes, this is surely the comedy apotheosis of Millennial Man. - Kate Copstick
Until 25 August.