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Culture, Comedy

What Makes Me: Robin Ince

Robin Ince

Robin Ince (described by The Guardian as a “becardiganed polymath”) is an actor, writer, comedian, perhaps best known as co-presenter of BBC’s The Infinite Monkey Cage series, with physicist Brian Cox. He is also founder of The Cosmic Shambles Network, ‘content creation for the curious’. A seasoned speaker and performer, he can be found onstage at ALSO Festival this July. We wanted to know

What Makes Robin


I'll give you one of the most recent examples, which was sitting next to my 16-year-old son, watching Johnny Marr, and both of us belting out There is a Light That Never Goes Out.

Also, going to weird little coastal towns with my family where there's ice cream and bookshops. That's pretty high up. And then also actually performance. I really do love performing; the joy of just being on stage and then the connection that happens afterwards when you're in the bar with members of the audience and they have something to share with you.


It’s very difficult to be connected to as much brutality as we are connected to, and I think that that is very, very hard in the twenty first century for a lot of people.

I find seeing other people's sadness and not being able to repair that situation very difficult. And also I suppose that the number of lonely people, without wishing to sound like I'm reciting Eleanor Rigby, there are so many people who are going through life sadder than is necessary. I wrote a book [I'm a Joke and So Are You] which dealt with mental health and it really increased the number of people who would get in contact with me or people who I might just bump into who would have a story…they had been hiding their sadness, hiding their fear, perhaps for decades.


I'm much better at not being angry. My anger very often will be with myself, my failures, because I take on a lot of things and I'm actually not a very organised person.

It makes me angry to see how many people who've monetised their unpleasant ideas and hate are given platforms by the mass media; people who, throughout their career, have feasted on other people's unhappiness and making other people unhappy.


One of the things I love seeing is nature, growing out of the cracks where human beings have built something solid. Yes, it's one of my favourite things. Here is the solid intention of humanity to build, and nature finds the cracks.


As I mentioned before, the excitement of performance is something that I absolutely adore.

I'm excited a lot of the time. I mean, I'm always looking around at wherever I go. I take photos everywhere. And I want to be looking at things all the time [to be aware of] synchronicity or coincidence – you decide. I was doing a gig on a boat a couple of Sundays ago, and I started talking about when my dad was dying, we sat around his bed and read Tarka the Otter to him. The woman who ran the boat nudged me and said, ‘what's that boat called?’ And literally it had only just come into view, and it was called Tarka. I love things like that; the more stories you put in your head and the more you engage the more you find that it's almost a daily occurrence to have something that seems a little bit strange.

Combining ideas, music and comedy with the best in food, nature and wellness, ALSO Festival is held in the grounds at Park Farm by the lake at Compton Verney (12-14 July). This year’s theme is Heavenly Bodies, which will be celebrated over three days of life-enhancing creativity and conversation. Robin Ince is one of the headliners in a line-up of speakers which also includes Adam Kay, Sara Pascoe and Philippa Perry.

ALSO festival lineup


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