Greenwich Comedy Festival: Robin Ince

By Giles Broadbent on July 19, 2012 11:18 AM |


Robin Ince
Greenwich Comedy Festival

Happiness Through Science may be Robin Ince's creed but he has enough residual anger to keep us laughing.

Science is good meat for comedy. Life is essentially absurd, biology a bonkers lottery, particle physics so ridiculous that scientific theory flirts with surrealist flights of fancy without raising an eyebrow.

Robin Ince explores this seam with an amateur's eye for the wonderful and the cynic's exasperation with the flat-earthers.

Happiness Through Science is his unashamedly niche show where he parades prejudices and champions the scientific method with an asterisk (*check on Google before repeating his conjectures as facts).

He is the excitable kid with the chemistry set and singed eyebrows rather than the check-shirted coffee shop fact digger.

In his quest to shake science free from the cloying mud of the "deliberately stupid" he takes a tilt at newspapers, new agers, climate change deniers and Luddites.

He rhapsodises on his heroes, including Richard Feynman, Peter Singer and Charles Darwin and - to the delight of the masses - presents his Infinite Monkey Cage pal Professor Brian Cox as a wistful Orville to his Keith Harris ("I wish I could fly / faster than the speed of light but I can't... Oh.")

His comedy, often delivered by means of a rant, lands with light touch. He's very much into scratching chins rather than punching lines but he is bursting with things to say - a comedian with a strident message - which he delivers with infectious passion and palpable bemusement.

Of course this preachy fire and brimstone may be in the genes. This militant atheist is - and here's the irony - the product of generations of vicars.

To a liberal, enlightened Greenwich audience - sprinkled with scientists ("unlike Scunthorpe") - it was delicious comedy for converts.