Interview: comedian Robert Newman on his New Theory Of Evolution
'There are a lot more excellent and very funny female comics now than ever before'
Were Robert Newman to look at old footage of himself and David Baddiel rollerskating into Wembley Arena at the zenith of the ‘comedy is the new rock’n’roll’ media frenzy, he’d probably feel a little funny. For his career has been deliberately engineered ever since to repel any notion that he is a heart-throb celebrity. It would be hard to imagine any girls screaming as he walked on to a stage now with his New Theory of Evolution.
‘The theory is that co-operation drives evolution more than competition,’ he notes. ‘The new show is more focused on science. I’m finding it tremendous fun to talk about the new science of epigenetics, as well as breakthrough discoveries in brain imaging such as mirror neurons. I love exploring the extraordinary behaviour of red harvester ants, flatworm nematodes, Antarctic penguins, vampire bats, rats and – star of the show – the amoeba dictyostelium discoideum, known as Dicty Disco for short.’
So, nothing especially close to the reflections on man drawers and tales of going out-out that seem to have the masses flocking to the big arenas these days. Not that Newman is especially pessimistic about the current state of comedy. Quite the opposite, in fact. ‘When I started out, there were lots of weird and wonderful cabaret acts doing silly, inspired, original and inventive 20-minute sets. Lately a new crop of “indy comics” has blossomed. I like their turn towards soulful comedy, their storytelling bent and their quest for meaning. There are also a lot more excellent and very funny female comics now than ever before.’
The Stand, Edinburgh, Sun 19 Jan; The Stand, Glasgow, Mon 20 Jan.