Note: This review is from the 2019 Fringe

You might assume from the title that this would be a show full of material about canine care, but instead, Robin Grainger‘s debut takes us on his journey into adulting. He’d considered naming the show God Complex, but settled for Dog Complex when, post-30, his life took on a new lease – as a dog dad. It’s a great title. God complex remains a theme of the piece though, as Grainger discusses the cultural need for deity-like power through the lens of social media and Tinder, among other things.

The Scottish Comedy Awards Best Newcomer nominee has supported Tom Stade on tour and been on Radio 4 – he’s on an upward trajectory. His career in comedy forms part of the routine, as he discusses his growing up and metamorphosis from working at Huntly Asda, to jobbing comedian, to fully-fledged adult with a flat (and a balcony), girlfriend and pup. It’s positive, but also has a lot of self-deprecating material, especially an opening series of jokes aimed at Grainger’s own appearance – a theme he returns to throughout, perhaps a little too much.

It’s a mixed bag of some really quality sections and some more pedestrian routines and well-trodden (in the comedy world) topics. Descriptions of his home town and a trip on an internal flight are especially good, the latter providing some really original and refreshing material. He talks at length about his stoner brother, in what can feel a little too padded out. But there’s a warmth and fondness that’s enjoyable nonetheless. There are of course a few dog stories too in what’s a solid stand-up show.

Grainger proves himself a capable and thoughtful comedian and is at his best when tapping into his more cerebral, observational side. Dog Complex has a pleasant end – it’s gentle, with hope and positivity. Grainger and his dog meet and thank his full house after the show, in a personal touch that echoes the warmth of the piece.