Robert Newman is a British comedian, author and political activist. He, alongside his then comedy partner David Baddiel became the first comedians to play and sell out the 12,000-seat Wembley Arena in London. He hasn’t performed stand up in seven years, but now he’s back with a new show, coming to The Old Market as part of Brighton Comedy Festival. We caught up with him, to bring you guys back up to scratch.
So, first up who is he – where did he come from?
Robert was born in London but was brought up in a small Hertfordshire Village. He had a Saturday job working as a farmhand on the fields rented out for Knebworth pop festivals, and so got to see everyone backstage from led Zeppelin to the Rolling Stones. But he was more interested in their audiences.
How did he start off in comedy?
In the 80’s he started playing rooms above pubs, doing impressions of Top Cat, Basil Brush, Dirty Den and Tony Benn.
He hasn’t done stand up in 7 years, why the wait?
He’s been researching and writing his book (due out this Novmber) The Trade Secret. He also became a dad, and had a couple of back operations (he’s all better now though).
So what’s this new show about?
The show is called Robert Newman’s New Theory of Evolution, the theory being that cooperation drives evolution more than competition. (Pretty light stuff then…)
Why this subject matter?
Because he believes that it is a comedians job to cheer people up, and he wants to dispel the gloom created by ‘Neo Darwinists’ that we are slaves to our genes and are all born selfish.
Who / what does he talk about?
“I reckon a pretty good indication of a show is to itemise the things or people mentioned”
Australopithecus Lucy (she’s a Mesolithic ‘early human’), Charles Darwin, of course, but also that other Chuck D: Charles Dickens, Hans Christian Andersen, Laurel & Hardy, Richard Dawkins’ postman, Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone, Russian anarchist and natural scientist Prince Peter Kropotkin and Charlie Chaplin.
Apart from people there’s lots of animals from red harvester ants to flatworm nematodes to empathetic chimps and matriarchal baboons and Antarctic penguins, vampire bats, rats and the amoebae Dictyostelium Discoideum (Dicty Disco for short).
And is he still super political?
The new show is more focused on science. He’s finding it tremendous fun to talk about the new science of epigenetics, as well as breakthrough discoveries in brain imaging such as mirror neurons, for example.
So what’s next?
Hopefully, following the world wide success of his History of Oil show, this show will be filmed for broadcast too, he just hopes it will come off (you can be the judge of that!)
Robert Newman’s New Theory of Evolution will be on Thursday 23rd October at 8:45pm