When Robin Ince gives you melons, make melon juice – just don’t punch Vernon Kay in the face! - Vladimir McTavish

It’s the second-last day of this year’s Fringe, although some brave or foolhardy souls will be doing shows on Monday.
Robin Ince in his comedy show Melons at The StandRobin Ince in his comedy show Melons at The Stand
Robin Ince in his comedy show Melons at The Stand

Many performers will by now be pining for their homes in London, New York or Melbourne, having spent the past month paying through the nose for their accommodation or living in squalor. Or in a lot of cases paying through the nose to live in squalor.

I shared a flat with Robin Ince in Forrest Road at the 1997 Fringe, when I was still based in London.

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In terms of its location, it was ideal. In terms of facilities, it was absolutely horrendous.

One bedroom had no windows, like some kind of torture chamber.

My room had no furniture apart from a set of bunk beds from which the bottom bunk had been removed, so I was effectively sleeping suspended five feet above an otherwise empty room.

The carpet had numerous suspiciously revolting stains on it. Had someone told me that the previous tenant had been a serial killer who had chopped up his victim’s corpses in that room, I would have believed them.

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The kitchen had all sorts of bizarre mould over every wall and the bathroom was so revolting that most of us waited until we got to the venues where we were doing our shows before we used the toilet.

The place was borderline uninhabitable to the extent that we would stay out drinking until 3am every morning. Which meant I woke every day with a blinding hangover seemingly floating over a former crime scene.

Most days I would look down over the side of my bed in a dizzy haze and make an effort to stop myself from throwing up onto the floor below. In hindsight, I don’t really know why I bothered. A coating of vomit would have improved it.

Robin Ince is back at the Fringe this year We see each other every evening at The Stand’s New Town Theatre, as his show immediately follows mine in The Studio.

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The show is titled Melons and describes itself as a love letter to stand-up comedy. It is a positive life-affirming hour about the art form to which Robin, myself and others have dedicated ourselves over the past quarter of a century.

It is wonderfully silly, and at times very moving as Robin name checks some of our fellow comedians who have not survived the past 25 years.

The show opens with him repeatedly punching a melon onto which he has drawn Vernon Kay’s face.

Some may see this as a waste of fruit. However, hand on heart, who wouldn’t want to repeatedly punch Vernon Kay in the face?

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It may not be much fun for the melon, but it’s catharsis for everybody else. If you get the chance, do get to see the show. If you fancy a faceful of melon juice, sit on the front row.

In case you’re wondering about Robin’s accommodation now that he is a familiar voice on Radio 4, he has been spending the Fringe sleeping on the floor of the studio of an artist friend.

He admits not ideal but it is free and feels like a five-star hotel in comparison to the dreadful slum we shared back in the late nineties.

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