“This Tornado Loves You”
John Robbins Pleasance Courtyard 2145 until 24th August Reviewed 19th August £12 4 stars
John Robbins is in love. It’s a unique experience for him (disregarding that one time he and his mate locked eyes in the pub).
Being a standup comedian, the way he chooses to explore this new emotion is by alternatively lambasting and lauding his beloved to a crowd of 50-odd strangers. It’s far from the first time we’ve had such a conceit on stage, but then again it’s supposedly an eternal subject. Everyone in his situation will have exactly the same thing to say, and will say it in a different way.
Luckily for us, for John Robbins that way is very funny indeed. Odi et amo, said Catullus: I hate and I love. John Robbins does much the same, although his version is heavier on the gags about menstruation.
And yes, I struggled through that bit. I’m not sure if I’m overly alarmed by the idea of a male comedian mocking (however gently and lovingly) his partner’s menstruation, but it was well-received by the audience. It may assuage you to know that John’s partner is also a comedian, who reportedly treats him with the same amiable condescendence that he employs.
Nonetheless, it’s not representative of the rest of his material. He’s generally quite a measured, thoughtful observational comedian; with none of the aggression or hammy hackwork that a lot of his ilk use. He doesn’t lean on anything easy – no stereotypes, no callbacks to awkward audience participation, no catchphrases. He doesn’t need to. He’s funny enough on his own account.
Ultimately, and inherently, you’re unlikely to walk away from this night with a new appreciation of romance or having gained fresh insight into your partner. You will, however, have spent an enjoyable evening in the company of a funny man.