“I attempt to tackle all the problems of the human mind and human behaviour in two hundred and eighty-eight pages” Idle chit chat with Robin Ince

Robin Ince, photo by Natalie Shaw

You’ll know Robin Ince. Comedian, writer and broadcaster according to his website. You’ll almost certainly have heard of his award-winning radio show The Infinite Monkey Cage. Or maybe one of the podcasts he hosts or contributes to. Anyhow, in amongst all this work Robin took some time out to have a bit of idle chit-chat with us.

Hey Robin, how the heck are you?

Very well apart from the trapped nerve, but they all get trapped now, I’ve just turned fifty.

What have you been up to today?

Took a day off to see an exhibition of Diane Arbus photographs and interviewed a playwright about songs about pies.

You’ve got a new tour DVD  book to promote, what can you tell us about ‘I’m A Joke And So Are You’?

I attempt to tackle all the problems of the human mind and human behaviour in two hundred and eighty-eight pages via interviews with neuroscientists, geneticists, therapists and Noel Fielding and harsh dissection of my own feeble mind and experiences.

The book has a very nice 4.5/5 on Amazon from reader reviews, including this opening comment: “I read this a few days ago over two sittings and I’m still processing it. I will be for a while. It’s incredibly impactful and thought-provoking.” That’s pretty cool, right?

I found the experience of writing it pretty infuriating and nightmarish and wanted to give up at numerous times, the reaction has been worth all the frustration. It has been fascinating to discover what people have got out of the book and I am glad to say that people have told me they found it useful…and hopefully funny at times too.  

Writing a book seems like a bunch of mega-hard work, how do you approach it?

I approached it by spending four months writing the wrong book and then throwing it away in a fit of pique, then I began again, I threw some of it away during bouts of pique, overwrote, hacked away, cooed over ideas that I then killed and argued furiously with my very accommodating editor.

I couldn’t find a bio on your website, so, in the style of a haiku, tell us about you.

physicist interrupter
makes Blessed sound
Persistent noisy fool

How would you describe your comedy style.

See above – it is frenetic, I like doing stupid voices and clever voices and trying to pack in as many ideas as possible, a sociology lecturer on the brink of madness

You’re carrying on with your tour next year, what you can about your show ‘Chaos of Delight’, in two sentences?

In these times of conflict and fury, it is a show that tries to jemmy out the better things about being a curious creature in an intriguing universe. It is also about Hammer horror films, marshmallows, space exploration and Nick Cave.

A friend of mine is always bugging me to listen to Infinite Monkey Cage but, and I’m going to be totally frank here, I haven’t bothered yet. Tell me why I should.

Because we try to deal engagingly, but not patronisingly, with some of the most remarkable ideas about everything in the universe.

On that subject, Professor Brian Cox surely can’t be that nice in real life can he? Tell me one thing about him that’s annoying.

His ability to reemain stoical can be frustrating.

You’ve also been on Cariad Lloyd’s Griefcast, that’s something I actually have listened to. How was that to record?

Intriguing, I talked honestly about bereavement, something I write about in my book but which I had not spoken about out aloud. It was only after I left the studio that I got hit by the magnitude of it all.

You’ve worked on a few TV shows, there are a whole bunch of comedy panel shows these days, but which one do you never want to appear on? And why?

The one I would love to be on is Would I Lie to You? But as a whole, they are best off without me and the producers agree

I love Pointless, how was appearing on that?

We took it very very seriously. I am not the sort of person who wins competitions and I was determined to hold the perspex of victory. i think Alexander Armstrong was a bit frustrated by how long we took as he had a booking at a fancy restaurant and was fearful his venison would be tepid.

Tell us a charity we should support. And why.

The SOPHIE Lancaster Foundation, it does wonderful work in memory of Sophie who was brutally murdered and reminds people that looking different does not mean someone must be your enemy.

What other comedian is worth checking out?

Joanna Neary – an utterly brilliant character comedian who is perpetually inventive.

What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?

Do you see dead people?  

Finally, how do you take your coffee?

Black like the beatnik poet I imagine I am in my home counties head.

Robin’s book I’m a Joke and So Are You is out now and available from bookshops everywhere, including Amazon. Obviously.

His new show ‘Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People’ has tickets on sale now. And his ‘Chaos Of Delight’ show, running in Autumn, has added new dates for which tickets are also on sale.

Max Mazonowicz

Updated: Mar 18, 2019

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“I attempt to tackle all the problems of the human mind and human behaviour in two hundred and eighty-eight pages” Idle chit chat with Robin Ince | The Digital Fix