Thursday, 6 March 2008
Five Questions: Robin Ince
He won the 2006 Time Out Award for Outstanding Achievement in Comedy, largely for his 'Book Club' nights. A friend of Ricky Gervais, he's appeared in 'The Office' and supported Gervais on the 'Politics' tour. He's written for 'Have I Got News For You', 'Alistair McGowan's Big Impression', 'The 11 O'Clock Show' and 'Dead Ringers'. And he's a thoroughly bloody nice bloke who can take a critical review in good grace. He, ladies and gentlemen, is Robin Ince.
What made you want to be a comedian in the first place?
I was brought up on The Goodies and Laurel and Hardy, then when I was in my very early teens, the alternative comedy explosion began and I was hooked on 'The Comic Strip Presents', Kevin Turvey and 'The Young Ones'. Rik Mayall is a comic genius in his wide-eyed portrayal of manic intensity and social embarrassment. Rather than scribbling the names of bands on my exercise books, I would scrawl the names of 'Comic Strip' episodes, attempting to perfectly match each individual font. By my mid teens I started to visit the Comedy Store and The Chuckle Club, delighting in acts such as Freddie Benson (aka Andrew Bailey), Tony Allen and The Joan Collins Fan Club (later Julian Clary). So I started shouting into microphones in my early twenties and now, at 39, I still do.
What's been your best gig to date?
I thoroughly enjoyed the gig I did last night at the Clockwork Comedy Club, a reasonably formless and unplanned 30 minutes of rage and ridiculousness. I also usually love doing benefit gigs at the Hammersmith Apollo, a 3500 seater that seems strangely intimate. I performed predominantly new material at the Stand Up For Animals gig and then ended the night dressed as a bear being kicked by Bill Bailey’s son while Bill and Tim Minchin played a wonderful song.
And your worst?
I am a reasonably harsh critic, so there are many gigs I haven’t enjoyed or have damned in hindsight. My first proper death was at a club in Croydon and that was an eye-opener. While supporting Ricky Gervais on his 'Politics' tour I had a particularly hateful gig at the Palace Theatre, with drunk men in suits mumbling and no one really paying attention, I hated that one as it put me in such a bad mood that The Pixies gig I went to afterwards was ruined.
What's the best heckle you've ever received? And how did you respond?
I have no real memory for heckles, I was booed on at the Belfast Empire, so I responded by staying on stage for twice as long as I was meant to.
Which other comedians do you most admire?
Billy Connolly, Laurel and Hardy, Simon Munnery, and Steve Merchant’s stand up makes me weep. The list is long.
What are you working on at the moment, and what does the future hold?
I am currently working on series 3 of 'Skins' and writing a macabre screenplay. I am also touring around art centres with a work in progress, promising a new hour every month as I slowly put together my next tour which won’t be until 2009. I am also writing and recording a documentary for Radio 4 about the time my record collection was destroyed by sewage. I have a replacement for the 'Book Club' night, called 'The School for Gifted Children' which mixes bluegrass with mini lectures and songs. Last week I ended up performing a double act with Alexei Sayle - beware Cannon and Ball.