The Very Least Worst of Robin Ince began as an idea to do everything Robin Ince has ever written (at least, that’s what he says in the show), but there were time constraints. What The Very Least Worst of Robin Ince became eventually is a 3-hour comedy DVD consisting of 23 standup comedy tracks, pieces of 2 shows recorded January and September 2012 played in a different order every time you watch the DVD, with a revolving 8 intro videos; 27 minutes of outtakes; and an additional 23 minutes if you play it on your computer. The first print-run’s DVD sleeve mis-titles it as The Best of the Worst of Robin Ince.
Robin Ince throws his arms up and yells, “Niche! That’s me!” This pretty much sums up his comedy for you. If you like very niche anecdotes about things you may not have a background in or perhaps didn’t know existed, this DVD is for you. If you like science, philosophy, literature, and politics, this DVD is for you. (If you don’t, there’s one or two pub jokes in there for you.) If you like comics who are angry and shouty but still fairly clean, this DVD is for you. If you just want to see a man have a breakdown on stage and start arguing with himself in different voices, this DVD is still for you.
If you’re at all familiar with his work, you’ll rightly guess that the show will be thick with references to odd books (Ince authored a book on odd books a few years ago), this time citing Emotional Problems of Living and Amusing Ourselves to Death, and impressions of people like Tony Blair, Carl Sagan, and John Peel. He actually does an entire routine as Stewart Lee. And if you’ve ever wondered why Laurel and Hardy never discussed the likes of dark matter, your fantasies are about to be realized.
Robin Ince once had a conversation with his friend, psychologist Richard Wiseman (who guests on an excellent episode of The Infinite Monkey Cage and explains sleep paralysis), and he said to Richard, “You know how you have all these voices in your head…” and Richard said, “No?” Robin admits that when he’s in his house alone, he lets those voices talk aloud. Sometimes they are those of Carl Sagan, Herbert Long, or Nicky Henson. He actually met Henson once and thought it would be a good idea to tell him. It wasn’t. These voices and others sometimes come out on stage, unplanned, and appear to be symptoms of a public mental collapse. “There’s no time for improvisation now. Why didn’t you think of that at 7:30?” People think it’s a stage character he’s made up and are startled to find that the persona doesn’t go away after leaving the theatre.
Robin Ince doesn’t always do politics, but when he does, he likes to bang on about Ann Coulter. I remember him doing a lot of that in the brief and only set of his I’ve ever seen live. He’s currently amused with, “If evolution exists, why hasn’t the earthworm evolved into a beagle,” and that Darwin paved the way for the Nazis because of his and Hitler’s use of the word “selection.” (Not unlike Cadbury’s?) If you watch the DVD extras, you’ll be treated to an extended version of the newspaper discussion. Not just an analysis of how “Which newspaper do you read” is the new “What star sign are you” but also a reading of interviews in several newspapers with varying political sway.
- I’d never heard this story before: How an entire train carriage conspired together to make sure that one sleeping passenger stayed asleep and missed his stop because they all thought he was a twat.
- One of my favorite Robin Ince stories, which I’d heard on Lost Treasures of the Black Heart podcast, is the story of why Robin’s wife doesn’t let him come to parties anymore. It involves bonobos.
- My favorite Robin Ince one-liner: “I think therefore I am, but the problem is a lot of people don’t think and they still are, and it’s really unfair!”
- He tweeted some satirical things about Jimmy Carr while Carr was in trouble for tax avoidance, but when he bumped into Carr, he thanked him for the tweets, saying they cheered him up.
- Stories about Richard Dawkins and Richard Wiseman being socially inept.
Personally, the one thing I would have liked to see is the story about how his baby son Archie was playing blocks, and they all tumbled down and he went “Fuck!” Robin was told that this was excellent because the “F” phoneme is very advanced for his age. I’ve only ever heard this bit once, during the live show I saw, and never on a recording. There are some other good Archie anecdotes, though, including ruining a birthday surprise and his wife’s friend being afraid that Archie was gay after he’d bumped his head and wanted his little friend to kiss it better.
The Very Least Worst of Robin Ince is available from Go Faster Stripe, and is region 0, so it should play on most DVD players and computers worldwide.