The John Robins-Sara Pascoe split: what can we learn from this very public break-up?

By Jamie Trezise

When I got the email from Status asking me to write an article about my favourite comedian/human being John Robins, I got very, very excited. Firstly, because it confirmed to me that Status are on email, which you simply have to be these days. But mainly I get to share why I love him, and why his break up with the more famous Sara Pascoe has many lessons that can be learnt.

John first came to my attention when I was browsing for a new podcast, and I came across the Elis James and John Robins podcast from their Radio X show. From listening to the first episode, I was hooked, and I began to feel very involved in John and Elis’ lives. I soon learnt that both John and Elis had CRPs (considerably richer partners), as John was dating the lovely Sara Pascoe (from Mock the Week and Live at the Apollo fame) and Elis is now engaged to comedian and actress Isy Suttie (who played Dobbie in Peep Show). Soon, I began to feel like a third wheel…

I felt a part of the ups and downs as the dulcet tones of Robins and James came through my ears, such as Toothbrush-gate. For Christmas in 2015, John very thoughtfully bought his girlfriend a toothbrush, as he really, really cares about oral hygiene. However, Sara bought him an all-inclusive holiday to Barbados, which really showed the difference in John and Sara’s earnings. It’s clear that John is being very considerate here, and is most certainly not thrifty… This brings me to the first thing I’ve learnt from comedy’s power couple: money isn’t everything. John has never really earned as much money as Sara, but he tries his best with the money he has. It’s always the thought that counts.

John has talked about his relationship with Pascoe in his Edinburgh show Speakeasy, where he talks about how Sara went to Australia for 4 weeks, and he didn’t know what to do with himself. When he found out that Sara’s Google account was signed into his phone, all hell broke loose… Another lesson is that sometimes it’s okay to make fun of your partner, as long as it’s done sensibly. Ribbing your significant other until they want to cry is never okay, but playful repartee adds to the fun in relationships.

In autumn 2016, John and Sara appeared together on TV’s Mock the Week, which led to much back and forth, including John bringing up Sara not using heavy duty bin bags. Ed Gamble made a very funny comment saying “If you two break up, there is going to be some very awkward nights when you tune into Dave” (or words to that effect). Little did he know that just before Christmas that year, the split happened. And I don’t mean the bin bags.

When I found out that John and Sara had broken up, I was heartbroken. Someone who played such a big part of my life was hurting, and I was hurting alongside him. There was so much that was racing through my mind, such as the fact that they had just bought a house together in Buckinghamshire, and who would get the Ikea double Billy bookcase. But their break-up was probably one of the best break-ups in the public eye that I have ever seen. Every break-up is public to some extent, so for my next break-up (if I have to do this!) I will try and be as graceful and sensitive as I can be. No-one likes a playground break-up!

In March 2017, Sara Pascoe won the Chortle award for best book. She was unable to attend the ceremony, so good old Johnny Robins stepped up and accepted it on her behalf. In his acceptance speech, he starts by saying “Sara can’t be here tonight… or any night” which nearly broke my heart. But John went on to say so many complimentary things about Sara and her dedication to her book, and it showed that he still really did care about her.  Although break-ups always mean separation, they don’t have to mean that friendship can’t exist.

The break-up made history when it became the subject of both John and Sara’s Edinburgh Fringe shows. What made it even more ironic was that they were performing in the same venue. ‘The Darkness of Robins’ and ‘LadsLadsLads’ were both critically acclaimed, and showed the different sides of the break-up. Many thought that Sara’s show was going to be better, as she is more famous. But Robins shocked the nation, nay, the world, by winning the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award, which is the biggest award in the comedy universe. Sara returned John’s acceptance speech kindness, tweeting to her 144K followers: “As one of the many who have recognised how talented and special John is – today is an emotional and brilliant day”.

It is painfully obvious that John and Sara’s relationship must not have been working. But they are still close friends. And that’s what we can all tak away from this very public split. Just because being partners doesn’t work out, it doesn’t mean friendship and closeness can’t blossom afterwards. There is still a clear sense of care and love between the two comics, which is great to see. The two continue to work together, and although articles about their relationship have been written, including one in the Times which says John has a low sex drive, they will let the past be the past, and carry on making the world laugh.

Besides, we all know that John and Elis are the best couple in comedy…

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