Loose Canons: Robin Ince

Loose Canons

31.03.2017

Loose Canons: Robin Ince

Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists we love to share five things that have inspired or informed their work. Meet the rest of our Loose Canons here.

“When someone writes a history of modern comedy, they should make room for Robin Ince.” - The Guardian

A whirring haze of cognitive energy and liberal anger, Robin Ince is the multiple award-winning comedian best known for co-hosting smash hit, Rose D’Or, and Sony Award-winning BBC Radio 4 and podcast series, The Infinite Monkey Cage with Professor Brian Cox. In a boon for all comedy and science fans, next week Robin brings his popular UK comedy/science show Cosmic Shambles LIVE to New Zealand. The show feels a bit like a TED talk but better - it's interspersed with stand-up comedy and short sets by local music artists. The New Zealand shows include UK comedian Josie Long and comedian/mathematician Matt Parker, NZ comedian James Nokise, musician Lawrence Arabia, as well as NZ and UK scientists.

A renowned populariser, Robin is a regular at science and comedy festivals, TED talks and the like around the world. He has been the curator and host of some of the most acclaimed live science shows and tours in the UK including Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People, Uncaged Monkeys, and Brian and Robin’s Christmas Compendium of Reason. Recently he has edited two anthologies of horror stories written by comedians, Dead Funny and Dead Funny Encore. He currently hosts the acclaimed Book Shambles podcast with Josie Long and the podcast Vitriola Music with Michael Legge.

If you listen to any one of Robin Ince's podcasts you'll know that he's brimming with obsessive fascinations. Well, well, the perfect subject for our Loose Canons series.


My son

He is the reason I have severely curtailed the amount of stand up and travelling I do. I find the new form of love that is generated when you have a child remarkable. Before he was born, I was terrified. “How the hell do you become a parent!?” Some nights I’d lie awake thinking, “it’s probably best I just die in my sleep, I don’t know how to do this.” Fortunately, I didn’t. We have a lot of adventures together and he is great company. Constructing Lego with him while watching Doctor Who is a damn good way to live. He is also funny enough to provide me with material during creative blocks.

Robert Rauschenberg

This is the latest influence. Before I got on the plane to change hemispheres, I made sure I went and visited the Robert Rauschenberg exhibition at the Tate Modern one last time. His art is inspired by curiosity and joy. Every room offers something different; a pencil drawing of William De Kooning’s that he has erased (with De Kooning’s permission), a large vat of bubbling clay, a stuffed ram with a tyre on it and daubed in paint… Rarely have I seen so many people walking around a gallery smiling.

There are walls and walls of delight. Watch his 1997 interview with Charlie Rose - there is nothing that's not adorable.

Two comedians in particular - Rik Mayall and Barry Crimmins

“Do you love me? Do you think I’m great? Do you really like me? Would you like to see my bottom, really like to see my bot?”

Rik Mayall is one of the reasons I became a stand up comic – you can blame him. Utter devotion to noisy stupidity. He's a reminder to always perform with total commitment. I've organised a few nights celebrating his work and it's beautiful to see a whole room enraptured by his genius. His death was a very sad day for British comedy. That night, doing a show with my friend Michael Legge, we were bigger and more stupid than ever.

Barry Crimmins is a recent discovery though he has been working since the 1970s. Bobcat Goldthwait made a brilliant documentary, Call Me Lucky, about his life so far. He's brimming with humanity and has fought important battles, both political and personal, and he knew Kurt Vonnegut. He lives up to Vonnegut’s advice on how to live your life: “Godammit, you’ve got to be kind.”

Browsing Secondhand Bookshops
in the Faded Glamour of Small Seaside Towns

I love browsing in partially-organised secondhand bookshops that are a short walk from a cake shop and the sea, preferably a cake shop on a pier. I am unable to walk past secondhand bookshops. If they are closed, it makes me sick to think what might have been in them. I love the potential in every book, I read the blurb and scan a random page and think, “hey, there might be a show in this.” I recently bought a book from 1953 by a man who believed he'd worked out how UFOs work. It created much envy amongst my friends. My excitement mounts when I find pencil notes in the margins or a forgotten postcard that was used as a bookmark. Sometimes I buy a book just for the postcard inside it.

Then, I like to sit on pebbly beaches with a faded paperback of a sixties kitchen-sink novel or maybe a Shelagh Delaney play and imagine I'm a beatnik. I find that these are the places where I experience instantaneous nostalgia; I'm experiencing a happy memory as the memory itself forms.

Making Lists Of Things That Inspire Me

Making lists of things that inspire me really inspires me:

Diane Arbus 
David Cronenberg 
Georgia O'Keeffe 
Myla Goldberg’s Bee Season 
The films of Hal Hartley 
Looking through telescopes 
Standing in radio telescopes 
Having a brain scan 
Stevie Smith
The Smiths 
Mr Smith Goes to Washington 
Breaking the spine of a notebook 
The essays of Arundhati Roy 
The thoughts of Roy Batty  
The Alice B Toklas Cookbook
Jane Goodall 
Angelo Badalementi 
Ennio Morricone 
Hypatia, the librarian of Alexandria 
All librarians who go to work on bicycles 
All librarians 
Bicycle Thieves 
Nobel prize-winning bongo players 
Nina Simone 
and Oliver Sacks


Cosmic Shambles LIVE plays at the ASB Theatre, Auckland on Tuesday 4 April.
Tickets are available here.

Tickets for the Wellington and Christchurch shows on Saturday 8 April and Monday 10 April respectively are available here.

Loose Canons: Miria George
Read Time: 6 mins
Mīria George (Te Arawa; Ngati Awa; Rarotonga & Atiu...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Miria George
By Miria George
Loose Canons: Frances Moore
Read Time: 5 mins
Frances Moore is an opera director, writer and teacher...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Frances Moore
By Frances Moore
Loose Canons: Uther Dean
Read Time: 8 mins
Playwright and comedian Uther Dean fills us in on...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Uther Dean
By Uther Dean
Loose Canons: Alice Canton
Read Time: 4 mins
Alice Canton is a performer and theatre artist based...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Alice Canton
By Alice Canton
Loose Canons: Pati Solomona Tyrell
Read Time: 5 mins
Pati Solomona Tyrell opens his work Fa'aafa at The...
Loose Canons
Loose Canons: Pati Solomona Tyrell
By Pati Solomona Tyrell
Loose Canons: Ralph McCubbin Howell
Read Time: 10 mins
Theatre
Loose Canons: Ralph McCubbin Howell
By Ralph McCubbin Howell
Loose Canons: Anya Tate-Manning
Read Time: 8 mins
Loose Canons is a series in which we invite artists...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Anya Tate-Manning
By Anya Tate-Manning
Loose Canons: Mara TK
Read Time: 4 mins
The son of Māori psychedelic rock legend Billy TK,...
Theatre
Loose Canons: Mara TK
By Mara TK
Beta!