Warning: the following post promotes a product that is not safe for all audiences.
I am sure that indie comedy is a thing. Like adult entertainment, the only way to really know indie comedy is when you see it.
At its most basic, comedy is a solitary act. Double acts are rare these days, so comedians are alone on stage more often than not, talking about very personal things.
All in an effort to make complete strangers laugh.
There are few comedians who have transcended this format, but only in as much as the difference is the size of the crowd. Most comedy isn’t performed in front of sold out arenas or theaters in massive metropolitan centers. Most comedy is done in small clubs, in even smaller cities all over the world.
There is one place that I know indie comedy exists. Every August, the best and the brightest talent in all of art descend on Edinburgh, Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The comedy and art that comes out of the Fringe Festival is some of the most pure content you’ll find on the planet. When you hear about someone’s set from Edinburgh, the conversation is usually about innovation. It was in this context that I came to know about John Robins.
John Robins is an English comedian whose take on the tropes that we often see in stand up — relationships, getting older, social situations, and even about comedy — is a breath of fresh air.
What I really like about Jon Robins’ comedy is his ability to take you down a road you’ve been down before in the setup for a joke and then knock you off track with the punchline. A great many people have experienced what John talks about, which makes him instantly relatable and makes his jokes easy to follow. The direction he takes with his punchlines elicits the “I can’t believe I never thought of it that way” type of reaction.
John has built himself into a bit of a name in the UK comedy scene. There are still very indie qualities about his comedy, among them are a level of humility and self-deprecation. John uses his Bandcamp page to post his sets with the option to pay what you would like, all while asking you not pay more than the ticket price.
The Bandcamp page features 2 albums. 2014’s Where Is My Mind?, which was recorded live and is similar to John’s set from Edinburgh in 2013. Where Is My Mind? is half coming of age story and half coming to terms with being middle aged. Told through a series of anecdotes, this album is a great chronicle of John’s journey through adolescence and into adulthood, told by someone looking back and wondering how he made it.
You can Listen to Where Is My Mind? HERE
The other album is This Tornado Loves You, which released this month and is a recording of John’s 2014 Edinburgh set. This Tornado Loves You is a show about love. I know I know everybody talks about love, but John takes it in a direction you don’t expect. Whether it is revealing how comedians get girls to the struggles of being a comedian who is in love, This Tornado Loves You looks at what love is through the warped mind of a comedian. Its only through this lens that you can see how genuinely funny love really is.
You can listen to This Tornado Loves You HERE
I said earlier that I was sure indie comedy was a thing but that like pornography, the only way to know it is when you see it. John Robins is indie comedy embodied. Being indie in comedy is not about being on your own and making your own thing — though it can be — but rather it’s a sensibility that comes from being comfortable with yourself.
Indie comedy is real. I know it because I have seen it.
Kyle can be contacted on Twitter @ConversionBox or via email at BackLogAdventures@Gmail.Com.