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 Newman image

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?evolutionposter

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

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QUICKFIRE NOTES: Molotov Jukebox’s Natalia Tena

Natalia Tena is the fiery lead singer of six-piece “Gyp-Step” band Molotov Jukebox, but that is only one side of her personality. We give you a quick introduction to this multi-talented lady.

Name: Natalia Tena

Age: 29

Occupation: Actress, Singer, Accordion Player, Model… the list goes on.

Where do we know her from? Natalia is most famous for her role as Nymphadora Tonks from the Harry Potter film series, and more recently as our favorite Game Of Thrones Wildling, Osha.

What does she think about Osha? ‘I love this character. I love being her, I really love it. I like struggling with the Northern accent but that’s also what helps me make her.’

Shouldn’t she be filming now? No! Game of Thrones Season 4 actually premieres in the UK the day after her gig here (talk about a Natalia double whammy.)

So aside from acting, and singing, what does she do? She plays the accordion.

Is that hard? Well, she is very good at it, but apparently it’s so heavy that she has to go barefoot while performing.

…dare we ask; anything else? On the set of Game of Thrones she learnt how to skin a rabbit. That was probably a one-off occurrence, though.

What else can we expect from her in the future? Her band Molotov Jukebox have been described as “World Domination with dancing and possibly sex…” (Eddie Temple Morris, XFM), so we would say probably that, but if not quite world domination, we expect great things from Natalia Tena, so watch this space…

Finally, what does SHE have to say about Molotov Jukebox? ‘My mission is to make people dance and sweat and smile and hopefully get laid.’

Natalia and her band Molotov Jukebox will be playing here at TOM on 06 April, 2014 (the day before the UK GOT premiere).


QUICKFIRE NOTES: An Introduction to LEO

Ahead of TOM’s biggest show EVER, we give you a quick introduction to Leo, the gravity defying spectacular, and what to expect from it.

Title: LEO

Creator: Tobias Wegner

What is it? A one-man physical-theatre piece that defies the law of gravity.

How do they do it? There is a giant screen and an amazing acrobat, the rest you will have to wait and see…

Where did the idea come from? Tobias Wegner’s early work was largely inspired by the 1951 film, The Royal Wedding (see a clip here, it explains everything!) and the idea for LEO grew out of a series of smaller experiments based on that inspiration.

How was such an experimental show choreographed? Mostly through trial and error Wegner explains, “The development of LEO is indeed very much based on play and improvisation. I was always trying to maintain a “reality” at first, to then go beyond what is possible with gravity as we know it.” Once that was created, a narrative that fitted and fleshed out the choreography was formed.

Was it a one-man creation of a one-man show or collaboration? A big artistic collaboration. A whole team went into creating the LEO experience, including a choreographer, director and creative producer, then eventually directors of set and lighting, costume, video and animation. “I don’t think anybody would seriously try and get a piece like LEO ready to go just by themselves – it’s very important and much more fun to have other creative minds on the team”(Wegner)

Is it still just Wegner performing? It is still a one-man show but there is now a team of three LEO’s although they were hard to find “I need acro-dance-clown-music-graphic hybrids. Hybrids come forward!”

Is it all just about style? No, there is a wonderful narrative that runs through the show, and Wegner stresses that the connection between performer and audience is very important to him.

Who should go? Everyone! As there is no speech this is a completely universal show. LEO is just a guy who finds himself in a situation that he has to work and play with, so it is pretty relatable to everyone. There is humour, dancing, happiness, sadness and an amazing use of technology, so there is something for everyone.

But is it child friendly? Yes,in fact The Village Voice (USA) said,“It’s unusual to hear so many child-like gasps of sheer delighted astonishment in a theater,” and that was an audience of children AND adults.

Why should you see it? Because you have never seen anything quite like this before.

LEO is on at The Old Market between the 17th and 26th of April, including matinees on each of the Saturdays. Tickets are available from £10.