Watching Robin Ince can be a nerve-wracking experience: you frequently wonder if he’ll remember to breathe.
Such is the speed and the excitement with which he delivers his material, ricocheting around between anecdotes, facts, and impressions, that it is hard to spot when he takes in air. And, as he would admit, he is no natural athlete.
Welcoming the Norwich Playhouse audience with the astute observation that they were “never at risk of being picked first in games at school”, he is surrounded by his people and happily burrows down some of the most esoteric cultural tunnels.
This one-off evening was split between an (attempted) dialogue on his book I’m a Joke and So Are You, and an exploration of Ince’s love for horror films and pulp novels.
His fizzing intellect meant he never quite got to the book, instead directly exploring some of his own biography (“I used to be really good at being miserable, I did it with aplomb. Then I saw what happened to Morrissey and realised I had to change”) and the sometimes strange and confusing habits of the human brain.
The second half was equally as frenzied, vainly attempting to get through several hundred pictures, film clips, and books of predominantly 1970s horror. He has the infectious passion of a true collector, and a great eye for the absurd: in just a few seconds he links gore movies with attempted diversity in a public information film on bicycle security, leading to the fabulous image of “Quentin Crisp on his Grifter”.
If you can keep up, Ince is a fantastically rewarding performer: startlingly funny, erudite, interested and interesting, and, most of all, warm-hearted. Over-running he apologised to a couple who had to leave to catch a train; his express-like mind could have kept going all night. I want a season ticket.