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From This Is London
The Improv - Friday, 15 April 1998
Official opening of the first British branch of an American comedy chain
that encourages capable comedians to do longer-than-normal sets, and thereby
launched the careers of Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Billy Crystal
and Bette Midler. The line-up for this weekend features Rob Newman, who
returns to stand-up after writing a novel (Dependence Day) which sold
enough to make most writers feel rather sick. There's also the svelte
and acerbic Donna McPhail, rebellious magician John Lenahan (the Magic
Circle booted him out) and Omid Djalili, who, being both Iranian and hilarious,
provides a valuable corrective to the PR disaster that was the Ayatollah
Khomeini. Friday 17 to Sunday 19 April at 161 Tottenham Court Road, W1
From 'Varsity Online':
Rob Newman returns with his new show
Since he disappeared out of the limelight six years ago, Rob Newman
has spent his time writing a couple of novels and eating all the pies.
Now he's back on the stand-up circuit, complete with celebrity belly.
Newman's new act is like Ben Elton off speed: an attempt to reproduce
the sort of anti-Thatcherite left wing attacks on the Government, that
were popular in the eighties. The fact that the current government are
inherently a softer target showed in the way he lacked the necessary passion
for his subject that made his predecessors successful. He simply didn't
look convinced with his own anti-capitalist rants. Nor did he seem comfortable
with the audience, even though he was effectively playing a home crowd
(he was at Selwyn). The most successful bits had their origins in The
Mary Whitehouse Experience - dodgy pervert and innuendo master Jarvis
got the biggest cheer from the crowd in what was otherwise a comeback
distinctly lacking in belly laughs.
Many thanks to Karon for allowing us to use her review:
Rob's gig at Leicester Phoenix Arts
Well, I finally got to see Rob's new show last night. I'll admit
I was a little apprehensive after reading all the promo about him
having gone political and after seeing a Bound & Gagged gig last
year which I can only politely describe as a shambles. I needn't have
worried; what political stuff there was was delivered in the usual
Newman style so I didn't feel there was any radical shift in direction
and Rob was certainly more on form that the last gig I saw.
The gig was a replacement for a gig earlier which had to be cancelled.
Rob's excuse - "he had a cold and forgot!" apparently he
had spent the day with his friend Martine looking at a house, one
of them might have bought, in Shrewsbury.
Rob appeared to music (a la the Dependence day Tour - though not
to Parsley the Lion's theme) wearing a wool hat and an emergency services
style fluorescent waistcoat. He then turned around to reveal the word
"polite" across his back rather than "police"
(this cracked me up in particular as when I was young I used to love
swapping letters in words and wondering if there was some mystical
connection ; "dad" - "bad" "friend"-
"fiend" "police" - "polite"!)
There was some old material which was recycled - the shagging incident
at Tribal Gathering, the volvo with rear hosepipe attachment, almost
the entire Jarvis skit, and others, but overall the material was new.
I also noted a large proportion of the audience were not the typical
age range who would have seen Rob previously - here we had people
the wrong side of 40 for a change. For these people especially, and
for the rest of the audience who cannot recite almost the entire 2nd
series MWE and N&B in pieces series verbatim, I'm sure everything
A new character was Eric Catatonia. An old bloke who likes upsetting
people and is paranoid. I didn't particularly find him very amusing.
We also had an insight into the "Ray - inflicted with the sarcastic
tone of voice" character.. or else another play on the same joke..
Rob is now saying he had a Swedish girlfriend who couldn't do a sarcastic
tone of voice......
My own personal favourite new piece, was Rob commenting on how whenever
he has an electrician, plumber etc round, he feels ridiculously gay.
As I was sitting next to my boyfriend who is an electrician, this
really cracked me up!
Andre Vincent - the support - was quite good, and had the difficult
job of warming the audience up, after an initial cold reaction, he
quickly developed a rapport and went down very well. I'd personally
not heard of him before, but if you get a chance he is well worth
I'd found out that Rob had parted company with Avalon, but on the
basis of this tour it seems he is now under the Bound and Gagged banner.
He wasn't very impressed with the press release that they gave out
with the tickets. Rob said the info in it was a pack of lies, and
apologised to the audience.
The "Manners" book was for sale in the foyer and there were
small tour posters available (nice piccie) with a political mag.
Anyone else seen the tour? Whaddya think?
to the top
This was the way the 1998 Edinburgh Fringe
Festival site advertised the show
His home-help is on-hand to decipher the twenty-stone recluse's mutterings.
Audiences should not be put off by his need to count to 47 every time
he hears a noise or by his frequent trips to peepee.
Venue 3: Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street
Aug. 11-12 22.00 (22.50) £5.00
Aug 13,16-17,19-20,23-27 22.00 (22.50) £9.50 £8.50
Aug 14-15,21-22,28-31 22.00 (22.50) £10.50 £9.50
Huge thanks to Lynn Gilmour for letting us use her review:
Was I sure what to expect after a three year absence from the stand-up
circuit? No!! Was I pleased with Rob's "all new" show? Yes!!
He's less coolly critical, but still sharp, analytical and thought
provoking; for that read deeply cynical and depressing!
Catch him wherever you can - he's touring in October and November throughout
the UK. Otherwise he'll disappear back to his writing den somewhere in
deepest London and we won't get another chance to see this neurotic genius
in action again until after the Millennium. The best comedy show on this
And huge thanks also to Craig Robertson for letting us use his review:
Welcome back Rob! It's been too long since we have had a chance to enjoy
Rob Newman's brilliant brand of humour on the stage. The hour flew past
and by the end we were left in no doubt that he has lost none of his comic
genius (he could do with losing a bit of weight though!). Go on, book
your ticket right now and look forward to something special.
The Financial Times, 1998
by Ian Shuttleworth
Also at Assembly, comedian Rob Newman has returned after a few years
in post-Baddiel, post-first novel exile. He feels no obligation to Gatling-gun
gags at us, often delivering quite disarming confessional digressions
about his wilderness years. When the jokes come, they are not only marvellous,
but sharper than ever, with most of his bile reserved for the corporatisation
of culture and big-business dictatorship of society at large. Political
comedy, all but dead on the Fringe, has been resurrected in a most unexpected
quarter although Newman would rightly hate the label. A warm welcome
back to both it and him.
From The Observer
Comedy: Rob Newman, Observer Assembly
By Phil Daoust
Monday, August 17 1998
For the past three years Rob Newman has been away from the comedy
circuit, writing novels. That's his story, anyway, but it seems more
likely he's been doing an OU politics-and-economics course. There
aren't many performers who'd dare explain the relationship between
bond prices and inflation, and fewer still who'd sound like they knew
what they were talking about - but in this new show Newman happily
tackles such weighty subjects on a stop-go tour of global capitalism,
New Labour and human vulnerability.
Assured and charming, he layers this "deep" stuff with
some obvious crowd-pleasers. You won't easily forget "global
shit-stirrer" Robin Cook telling the King of Saudi Arabia that
Saddam's been calling him a poof, or Newman's "true story"
of the Last Supper, all the disciples pissed as Jesus keeps churning
out the wine.
A few months ago, after seeing Newman defeated by massed freeloaders
at a comedy-club launch, I wrote something about him being unsuited for
stand-up. Excuse me while I kick myself.
to the top
From Danny Wallace's BBC Funny Talk page:
Rob Newman's pretty happy with the way his new festival show's been
going so far. "It's nice to be doing stand-up again. I'd taken
a few years out to write my new book. It's not that it's a particularly
hard book to write, it's just that I'm not all that bright and things
like this take time. But the show's been going really well, people
seem to like it and every night's fun," he tells me over an incredibly
strange Assembly Rooms fruit cocktail. "I look forward to every
From BBC's Edinburgh Festival Site, Guest diarist (1998):
Next stop the Assembly Rooms for Rob Newman - another sold out show
. Rob is Baddiel's original comedy partner and has gone to ground
over the last 3 years to write a follow up to his best selling novel.
He appeared looking dishevelled and smoking away and launched into
his act as if he has never been away.
It was a strange atmosphere as the audience couldn't make up its
mind if it wanted to participate or not. He has the knack of telling
a great story and the punchline always reverts back to something he
touched on earlier. He also did a great impression of Tony Blair which,
rather bizarrely, morphed into Ronnie Corbett!. For his encore he
proceeded to open the fire exit as it was so warm and invite passers
by in but he got no takers . A great show and good to see him back.
"Thanks for coming, really, cheers, thanks," says Rob Newman,
up on stage doing his first show in what seems like forever. "You've
probably been wondering where I've been for the last three years,"
he says, before launching into a show that is, in turns, funny, clever,
and stupid. While his political comedy lacks a searing, deadly edge, it's
probably made all the more cannily accessible for it. His storytelling
is both skilful and intelligent, and he knows how to work his audience,
playing on his "did you miss me?" appeal while remaining casually
aloof the whole time.
Though he appears the same old Rob Newman - plus a few stone - perhaps
that's his trick; to reel us in, and then hit us with something unexpected.
Newman, or a new man? You decide.
Excerpt from 'This is London' guide to the
Edinburgh Festival, 1998:
But most intriguing of all: could this be the year that Rob Newman resurrects
his performing career?
The Guardian, October, 1998.
Rob Newman, Southampton Guildhall
After a few years spent contemplating his novel, Rob Newman has returned
triumphantly to the live arena. His new stand-up show majors on vividly
imaginative sequences. For instance, he expresses his delight that
the Canadian Olympic snowboarder was re-awarded his gold medal after
testing positive for marijuana. What possible advantage could dope
give you in the competition, he wonders, "unless someone at the
other end was holding up a large packet of chocolate Hobnobs or the
finishing line was an all-night garage."
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