Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 18 November 2019

Interview: Stand-Up John Robins Reveals Those Shameful Moments He Will Be Bringing To The Stage @ Brighton Dome

Everyone has experienced shame. But award-winning stand-up John Robins has turned it into an artform. 

Robins covered the S-word extensively on the Radio X show and podcast he previously co-hosted with fellow comic Elis James

'John's Shame Well' – a feature where listeners sent in their shameful memories for Robins to share with the nation – became hugely popular. 

Now, the 36-year-old comedian is sharing his own embarrassing experiences on stage in his new tour, Hot Shame

It's Robins"s first live show since 2017's The Darkness of Robins, which won the biggest prize in live comedy – the Edinburgh Comedy Award – and went on to play across the country. 

Since then, Robins has been busy co-writing a book, The Holy Vible, with his podcast partner; filming his own TV series, 'Beat the Internet', for Dave; launching a golf-based YouTube channel with fellow putter Alex Horne; and, most recently, saying goodbye to Radio X to host a new show with Elis on BBC Radio 5 Live. 

As he prepares to hit the road, Robins talks about the show, the shame and his love of all things Freddie Mercury.  


What can you tell us about Hot Shame?

JR: It's about shame! I think shame is a damaging emotion, and there's something quite cathartic about seeing someone's own stories that they might otherwise have kept to themselves. 

Everyone has shameful memories, and whereas guilt is private, shame is a very public thing. 

You feel guilty about stuff that no one knows about, but shame is about moments of getting things wrong in public or wondering what other people think of you. 

Are those the memories that keep you awake at night?

JR: Yes – a comment I made to someone at school, or a misjudged joke I made at a dinner party. 

The objectively bad stuff you do doesn"t seem to linger as much, because you regret those things and apologise. 

But when shame's attached to something that you shouldn't be ashamed of, it can cause real damage. 

For example, if someone's on a date and they shit themselves, they haven't done anything wrong. 

It's a horrific experience and I can imagine it would haunt someone for their entire life, but no one has done anything wrong there.

Are you speaking from experience?

JR: No! Remarkably, I've pretty much kept my bowels in order in public for the last thirty-six years.

Does this show follow on from The Darkness of Robins at all? 

JR: I think it does in the tone, but not otherwise. This show is a bit more fluid – I"d like to have a show that you can cut up and put it in any order and it still works.

Like a great album? 

JR: Yes! Like Frank Zappa's first five albums – he always said you could slice up the reels in any order and put them back together and it would still make sense.

Talking of albums, your poster artwork is inspired a record cover?

JR: Yes, it's based on the Queen album 'Hot Space'.  


You're a huge Queen fan. Why reference that particular record? 

JR: It's an interesting one – it's their least critically acclaimed album and some people see it as a bit of a mistake, a misstep, or a mess. 

I think it's interesting to have an album that they maybe feel a bit embarrassed about now to use as a backdrop. 

But that's such a niche reference, no one will get that from the poster! One guy thought it was the front of Blur's "Greatest Hits", so what can you do? 

You got very behind the Bohemian Rhapsody film last year. How do you feel about people jumping on the Queen bandwagon since the movie"s success? 

JR: Brilliant! I think it"' great! Queen seem to be able to make themselves current for every generation. 

Whether it's the film, or the "We Will Rock You" musical, or the shows with Adam Lambert – they somehow have this knack of, every ten years, being right at the top of public consciousness. 

You frequently talked about Queen on your Radio X show with Elis James. You recently left the station after five years – was it an emotional departure?

JR: Yes, very much so. The show was hugely transformative for the both of us, not just career-wise but as people. Looking back now it"s a bit like a diary; Elis had two kids, got engaged, followed Wales to the semi-finals of the Euros. 

I went through a breakup, numerous Edinburgh Festivals, found love, got engaged. From Edinburgh Comedy Awards to eating Space Raiders on the toilet, we talked about it all. 

And in the same way, the show was with our listeners through similar life events. Of course, we never imagined it would be like this; it"s just two friends chatting, playing games and trying to make each other laugh. 

But the correspondence we got when people heard the news was quite special. 

You're soon joining Radio 5 Live. How are you feeling about moving to the BBC?  

JR: There are things that will be very different – a bigger audience means inevitably some people won't like change. 

But it's also a really exciting prospect. We're now between Adrian Chiles and Kermode and Mayo in the schedule – they're in another league of broadcasting, and it'll be a real test of us to hit that standard. 

At Radio X we used to get told off for not having our passes and lanyards visible at all times, which, as a cool renegade like James Dean or Quentin Wilson, used to really piss me off. 

Having now been through security at the BBC, in comparison Radio X seems positively relaxed. 

I'm sure I"ll have to bite my tongue at times, or get Elis to bite it for me, if that's not too troubling an image.
 
Podcasting isn't your only online outlet. You recently started a YouTube series with Alex Horne called Bad Golf. How did that start?

JR: We've played golf together for a long time and we're terrible at it, and we thought that would be a fun resource to inspire other bad golfers. 

It's exciting. I"m playing with Alex today – we're filming this month's round – so I'm actually wearing my golf gear as I speak to you. 

And I've been sponsored by Cobra Golf. They gave me a new set of clubs after I posted the worst round I've ever had, so I"m going to see if these new clubs help me out today.

Apart from playing golf courses across the country, what are you most looking forward to about going back on tour?

JR: My friend Robin Allender – known to podcast fans as The Lovely Robin – is supporting me. I'm very excited for people to see his stuff – he's a musician and a stand-up, so it's a chance for him to spread his stand-up wings. 

Plus he's very good on some of the key topics of remorse and regret, so he's very much on brand.

John Robins: Hot Shame at Brighton Dome on Friday 29th November 2019. CLICK HERE for tickets.

by: Mike Cobley & Ben Williams




Share    


Ed O'Brien never planned to make a solo record. As a guitarist with Radiohead, who over almost three decades and nine albums have established themselves as one of the most innovative and influential musical forces of our time, he thought his artistic side had its outlet and was happy to spend any downtime from Radiohead with his family.

Throughout COVID-19 isolation, everyone has become aware of the supportive and stimulating power of music. Although many people want to learn, they have no access to musical instruments or tuition - especially with schools and shops currently closed. 

Local Brighton businesswoman, Lisa Lepki, is supporting an exciting initiative, The Page Turner Awards, to help new authors get their stories out into the world.
Credit: Andy Sturmey

Barely a year since their debut album Dogrel, Dublin's Fontaines D.C. are set to return with A Hero's Death.
Credit Katy Cummings

Scottish arena rockers Twin Atlantic are back with new album Power - and it's arrived with a dramatic shift in style and tone.

The Rec Rooms is an independent music and comedy venue in Horsham, West Sussex, which was opened by three locals just over eighteen months ago. 

Guerrilla bike lanes appeared overnight on the streets of Brighton as part of an Extinction Rebellion campaign to highlight the urgent need for more cycling space in the city.
Credit Jake Wangner

Jack Garratt accompanies the forthcoming release of his new deeply personal album, Love, Death & Dancing, with an equally reflective long-form visual piece.

Beloved of a passionate fanbase and garlanded by award judges, Tim Vine is taking a sharp left turn from his career as a one-line gagsmith and punmeister extraordinaire. Ladies and gentlemen, for one tour only (maybe), we introduce to you . . . Plastic Elvis! The idea for this new tour is somehow simultaneously daft as a brush and not as crazy as it sounds.

A new virtual high street delivery service is up and running. Click It Local, who's ethos is to enable local shops to be able to compete with the likes of Amazon on convenience and choice launched this week in a mission to save the local high street and help support the Brighton community.
Credit Jamie MacMillian

One thousand five hundred Brighton Festival ticket buyers have donated back some or all of their purchases to the Festival after it was cancelled due to the coronavirus crisis.
Credit Tom Sheehan

Taken from their self-titled debut album, One Hand Tommy is The Imbeciles latest single and proves no matter how strange our world seems right now, it could always be stranger .. 

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...







Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd