WHERE to start with Robin Ince?

Part comic genius, part impressionist, part science geek, but all funny.

Anyone who thinks of Robin Ince as just the gag-meister to Brian Cox on the hit BBC Radio 4 show ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ has a lot to learn. From compiling horror anthologies to writing films, there is more to him than meets the eye.

Ince has more than one string to his bow, but it was the funny one we saw at Soup Kitchen, and one we don’t see on stage often enough.

He is not going to be doing stand-up now for at least the next 12 months, which is a crying shame, because he’s just so good at it!

I do love a good stand up gig and this delivered in spades. From the moment he stepped onto the cellar stage at Soup Kitchen,  Ince had the small, but perfectly formed, audience in the palm of his hand.

To say we were lucky to witness one of the more underrated comics of our time at his peak might be pushing it a bit, but the audience certainly saw someone who was at the very least in his element in front of a small fringe crowd of expectant, like minded (nearly) adults.

He isn’t so much a joke teller, although he did sneak in a couple of crafty gags, as a storyteller par excellence.

From wanting to kill a duck (Feathers…) to Brian Blessed Meets Commander Chris Hadfield (bemusement), Stewart Lee’s observations on Ince’s own comedy (Get to the point…), Brian Cox’s inability to work out how long it takes a hot pie to cool down.

He took us on a journey involving all spheres of his fury, as well as letting us see the joy, and more than one digression along the way.

Robin Ince

This is what a fringe comedy show should be.

A small, enthusiastic crowd, a small stage, the smell of incense burning, a decent pint on tap and a comic who points out the ceiling is a host of Rorschach tests.

What more do you want for a Tuesday night in Manchester?

I do hope that Ince is as unsuccessful in this attempt to quit stand-up long term as his previous attempts have been, because the world needs more of him in its life.

This was supposed to be, as he put it, “A tight 50 minutes.” But ran closer to 90, and then he came back out and did another 10 AND stopped to chat about anything and everything with those who waited behind.

Cerebral comedy might not float everyone’s boat, but Robin delivered laughs a plenty, made you stop and think a bit and then sent you away with a big fat smile on your face, determined to be just that little bit kinder to the nasty people!

I’m off to look for the 1972 Andrey Tarkovskiy version of Solaris…

Must be good, Ince recommended it, and should we ever meet on a train, I’d hate for him to call me what he wanted to call the four-year-old on that train…

By Andrew Riley

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