Two gigs at the English Theatre in Rome (8-9 November) form part of Ince's first international tour, and give us a chance to see the man who's claimed the 2006 outstanding achievement in comedy award from Time Out, Londons entertainment guide. He says we're in for a frantic performance, aided by his trusted accordionist, Martin White.

"I hope to jump up and down and talk about all manner of nonsense," says Ince. "I'm bringing along Martin to help create an odd improvised soundtrack and maybe sing some stupid songs. I think stand-up comedy is a form of mental illness really, mixing ego with self loathing in big dollops."

However he admits his confidence wasn't so high when he first took the stage. "I got the chance to go on late one night. I was terrified and thought that would be that; it wasn't and here I am now."

Among the many reasons for Ince's success is undoubtedly his incredible work ethic he's a prolific writer and performer, appearing on countless BBC radio programmes and writing for TV shows such as the enduringly popular satirical quiz, Have I Got News For You.

His TV credits also include an appearance on cult TV comedy The Office, in which he is spurned at a job interview by boss David Brent, played by Ince's close friend Ricky Gervais. But it's through stand-up over the past two years that his profile has risen sharply, as an ever-growing audience happily latches on to his world of irreverence, which spotlights topics from creationism and otters to the conservative Daily Mail newspaper.

Impressive reviews have followed him as avidly as his loyal audience, taking in performances at the last two Edinburgh Fringe festivals. And it has meant an inevitable demand from further afield, including Ince's first trip to Rome.

He's relishing his visit, but admits that while his wife has Italian roots, his language skills don't match his other talents.

"My wife is a fluent Italian speaker. She's a Di Giuseppe and frankly it took me about three years to spell her name right. I'm thoroughly looking forward to this trip though; wherever I go I just like wandering about, stopping for coffee and then looking at a big bit of art."

Robin Ince Isn't Waving, Thurs, Fri 9-10 Nov , The English Theatre of Rome at Teatro l'Arciliuto, Piazza Montevecchio 5, near Piazza Navona. rometheatre@yahoo.com info: 06.444.1375, 3489.355.626, tickets: 15, reduced 12.