Edinburgh Festival review – John Robins

Robins puts the boot into militant atheists and Banksy in this impressive show

john_robins1While the crowds pack out the Udderbelly to listen to Frisky and Mannish perform their defiantly unfunny takes on crap pop songs, the eyes of the indie dweebs among us will have been drawn to this show nestling quietly in the listings.

John Robins’ Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven shares its name, as we all know, with an album by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, those kings of the post-rock scene.

However, audiences heading to see Robins’ set hoping for a stand-up equivalent of Godspeed’s slow-burning, noisy opuses, will be in for a surprise. Rather than being confronted by a brooding, bearded Canadian in a plaid shirt, what you will get instead is a perennially cheerful, well-spoken young man, who bounds around the stage in a Queen T-shirt.

There are those who might find Robins’ somewhat dorky persona grating. He insists on calling the audience “dudes” and liberally dishes out high-5s to the front row, but to stop there would be doing this first-rate comic a serious disservice.

The title of the show hints at its religious theme. Robins, we discover, is unhappy with the way his fellow comedians so often dismiss religions and those who believe in them, and, on the other hand, he is also irked by those who dogmatically adhere to their faith.

In exploring these bugbears Robins has plenty of astute things to say and many of his gags hit the mark. There some excellent routines, especially the ones in which he gives Banksy a deserved shoeing, muses on The Human Centipede and describes an excruciating family trip to McDonald’s with his religious father.

An upbeat conclusion rounds things off nicely as Robins pulls the threads together on this intelligent and consistently funny show.

4 stars

John Robins: Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven is on at 7pm at Just the Tonic Caves.
Review written by Will Gore

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