Robin Ince - Importance of Being Interested

The British geneticist and evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane once stated his suspicion that 'the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose'. To be sure, it's also incredibly difficult to fit the Universe into one of the 55 minute slots that have become the industry standard over the years. But then, as Robin Ince admits, he once did a four hour show and even then did not have sufficient space-time to squeeze in everything he wanted to say.

Ince comes with a track record in stand-up, but his passion is clearly sharing his belief in the importance of the human imagination, albeit a scientific imagination. His heroes all share that spark, even if Charles Darwin possibly took his self-declared talent for 'noticing things' to extremes when it came to his later researches into barnacles and earthworms. But Ince's point is that, even as an elderly man, Darwin (at one point imaginatively portrayed by Ince as a wannabe stand-up) was still 'interested' in aspects of the world around him. As, indeed was the American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, possibly most famous for his aptly-titled book, 'The Pleasure of Finding Things Out'.

Children, including his own son, may understand this pleasure, but Ince believes that too many people (although probably not that many in his audience) become more and more scared of showing their ignorance as they get older, and so stop asking questions altogether. Not only is this sad in so many ways, but it's also worrying, given that a genuinely informed population is also one that's more likely to question those in authority over them.

Ince is a passionate, informed and honest communicator who'll be the first to admit that quantum theory is counter-intuitive; that 'Wrong is not a level playing field'; and that he doesn't intend to wait until some life-changing, personal disaster occurs in order to keep noticing, thinking about and appreciating the world around him. Perhaps best of all, Ince is great at the off-kilter argument - such as why you owe it to your mother to make the most of your education (think size of the brain versus that of the human birth channel), and why bananas are just not as good as apples. After even just an hour in Ince's company, you'll have laughed and learned; that's not a bad combination, is it?

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

The Blurb

Only performance on the Fringe. Very fast talking about Darwin, Feynman and sponge crabs. Presenter of Radio 4's Sony Gold award-winning Infinite Monkey Cage. May tell secret of Professor Brian Cox's lovely hair.