| 1999 | 1998 | Book
Huge thanks to Biscuit for this review:
Norwich Arts Centre 17th February 1999
Right here it is the long awaited review of the 'R' man.
As I took a dictaphone with me on this one I was hoping for some help
in the memory dept. (I have now realised that dictaphones are sh*t - and
it was brand new) - caught some things just not very well. HERE GOES!
Rob was on at 8.40 not as billed 8.30 it soon became apparent that he'd
no idea what the running order (if there was one) was! He did some of
the stand-up to begin with from the autumn tour all the same stuff. Then
said he would explain for the people that hadn't been to warm up gigs
before how they worked as he said he'd been coming to the Norwich Arts
Centre since 1991 doing quiet, informal shows for - any of his new material,
- then glossed over the fact that this new stuff was for a TV SHOW !!!
that he was doing soon but he neglected to tell us anything more than
that -( no channel, no time etc. Although we were being filmed from the
back of the theatre so pos his own production?? ) we only found out that
we were being filmed when he completely mucked up a joke and got it all
round the wrong way and told '.............. Martin to stop filming we'll
get it right tomorrow - and I've messed this one up....).
He had two female comedians with him, one I had heard of Jo Enright &
one I hadn't Cathy Connor (or O'Connor) I can't make it out on the tape!
-she was heavily pregnant or as Rob said she's up the stick! - They were
helping with the sketches and also his tour manager Bobby Troman got himself
roped in as well. Rob was in a bit of a state himself he looked like he'd
just got up wearing
blue combat trousers and a long baggy blue shirt - He has porked out big
style this time looking larger than life (bigger than at Tufnel park kazz)
Christmas I suppose?
He did mention (whilst trying to find props) that he'd spent part of
Christmas day in the local Chinese Takeaway - he said that he thought
that at any moment he'd see a van pull up outside and tell him and the
other sad people to get in '.....You've failed at love, you've failed
at family - you've failed at life GET IN!...'
The stand up that he started with was (and I hope this jogs a few memories
for the recall of autumn) the 500 million £'s given to a foreign
company in Newcastle to start a project which they didn't finish and went
back to there own country taking the money with them....'should have just
given the money to the Newcastle boys and let them start an off shore
oil boring company in the ice flats - where they would have saved money
but not wearing coats, because they are -- '...........reet hard me I'll
wear only a T-shirt with the selves rolled up!..'
Rob chopped and changed around and then did one of his new sketches for
the telly - explaining the principal behind each one as he went this one
was to do with the people who on the news walk up to No:10 Downing street
when there is no other shot on the news to use in conjunction with the
story that they are running at the time - each one had Rob as the minister,
with Jo Enright as the newsreader giving some newscaster waffle about
each political subject the first of many being Confident about the economy
and this had Rob strutting across the stage in that manner.
The next had Bobby Troman pushing Rob as he was unconfident about the
Economy with Rob resisting and trying to get back off stage this ended
up with Rob being frog marched across the stage and being pushed/fighting
a lot which was really funny. Then one about a minister who had disclaimed
the evidence about himself being involved in arms dealing guns etc. (To
which a masked terrorist comes on saying here are those guns you wanted
and Rob tries to cover this up by saying the time yes. Quarter to three,
oh um.......and ends up being chased across the stage by a terrorist producing
a gun and waving it about).
Rob was telling the audience that he asked the Arts Centre where was
his hotel and they just said to him that it was near a CHURCH! ( anyone
not familiar with Norwich there's a small old church about every ten shops/house's
along any street!) The next sketches aren't quite in order (bloody tape
machine!!) The scene is set with Cathy coming out of a living room (Rob
offstage) and her standing in the kitchen ( Rob offstage yells come back!!)
she then goes on to say '....I'm not coming back in there you're driving
me crazy watching the TV, you're like who's that, what does she do (talking
about a TV programme that hey are watching) - and then five mins later
you're like and who's she what does she have to do with the story?? I'm
fed up with it!! Just get your stuff and F*ck off out of here go on go
I've had enough of you going on!! (Rob then comes onto the stage with
dark sunglasses on and a white stick (implying that he's blind) to a big
Then the most bizarre event of the night but IMHO the best of the night
Rob, Jo Enright & Cathy Connor come on stage in huge big afro hairdo's
and do an impression of the Four tops and start doing this dance and singing
(I'm sorry I can't remember how this started or why I'm not even sure
it really happened as it was that surreal - Rob was worried about his
singing but didn't really have to !!! '.....darling reach..reach out reach
out for me - I'll be there.....etc.' (you know the song) - (I listened
to this on the tape again today and oh course couldn't hear hardly any
singing as everyone was killing 'em selves laughing the physical comedy
was v funny and as I listened to it again I could see them and tears were
rolling down my face it was so funny - I hope this is in the TV show as
it has to be seen to be believed!! Rob went on to do more stand-up and
did a bit about protest's in London and how they should do protests to
stop the city and bring it to a halt - but it should be done by four year
old children - the down side of this being that by the time the kids got
there and just started to protest they would start to fall asleep and
would need to be picked up and taken to bed.
Then Rob did a sketch with two people (which I can see as becoming as
strong as Jarvis) he described them as two very lovely old people 'The
Lavenders' Hubert & Gladys - who look like they wouldn't hurt a fly
- they (Rob & Cath) then do a sketch with Jo as a neighbour who comes
round and Gladys offers her a cup of tea but tries to make it out of a
tin labelled 'Weed Killer' - as the neighbour then points this out to
her she just says'......I must have made a mistake how unfortunate .......(the
gist being that they have a sinister undercurrent to them ) - they then
invite her to a picnic near a cliff ( you get the idea!) They also do
a sketch on a tube train where Hubert & Gladys are sitting Rob says
'...You know it's national smile week this week and we missed national
book week last week we should combine the two so they get a book which
says how to commit MURDER on the front of it and they they look at the
audience and smile (in a sinister way).
This couple then as Rob explained - go around taking notes about things
that may break .....ie at a local air show Rob says '....so if a hammer
were to be dropped in the cockpit of this tornado jet it would cost 5
million £'s to fix (they then take notes ) the same vain with the
millennium dome '....so you say that that is the only support for the
dome that one pillar hhmmm......'(then they take notes again) Rob then
does some more stand up - about the Minks that escaped from that mink
factory and saying that they won't survive in the wild '....like they
had a chance in the factory......I reckon that they should get together
and form there own company (then does this mink impression) yes let's
form a limited company with shares hhmmm.......'.
He also does the poopy pants sketch about the traveller/grungy types
that he sees getting told off ( if your not familiar with it let me know
and I'll post it!) The interval came and went 9.15 Rob asked if whilst
we were out at the bar he would leave a blank piece of paper for the title
of his new show because he couldn't think of one as yet -(this was to
become where I came in - as Brian a mate of mine and me were walking back
into the hall to get our seats we saw this piece of paper which was blank
! no -one had written on it so having a pen and neither of us being able
to come up with anything half way decent I wrote NEWMAN GOES TO TOWN (OH
DEAR! yes I know crap!) but I felt sorry for him! (that's my excuse) and
we were back at 9.30 for Rob to say that in the interval it was a v poor
effort on behalf of his show title only one person (me) wrote anything
and then and rightly so slagged Newman goes to town off!
He blamed this on the mentality of the Norfolk bumpkins (which I am not
- I don't come from Norfolk - I come form Hertfordshire) he then introduced
Jo Enright for 20 mins of her own stand up which was very funny!
He then did Jarvis after her set nothing v new at all apart from ( I
think this was new) he'd asked the people of Nottingham where the red
light district was and they'd said Sherwood Forest and he said 'hhmmm...that's
what I like taking it from the rich and giving it to the poor....'as only
Jarvis can - the usual boy band management thing about them splitting.
Then he did Eric nothing new just the usual about the health workers
and eating crisps and drinking beer and some people drinking beer and
eating crisps and some people you know eating crisps whilst drinking beer
'.......'cause we've all got different personality types haven't we.......'Eric.
Also the giving up smoking stuff and the Stephen Hawking stuff the lactating
woman etc. Jarvis did do a piece about students and their parents driving
to stay at university for the first time he can tell that they don't know
where they're going because he can see their duvets and pot plants on
the parcel shelves of their cars - so he decides to put a pot plant on
the back of his parcel shelf in his Bentley and they all follow him around
like the pied piper. Jarvis also did a thing about Richey from the Manic
Street Preachers about playing with some kites on the Severn Bridge where
he went missing and about keeping him in his cellar as his Gimp.
As for paying £3.50 to get in I think I got my money's worth x3!
Some of the Rob sketches were a little bit slow but only because the other
people who were reading from his scripts couldn't read his hand writing!
Which he had to help with on several occassions. One sketch Rob only wrote
5 mins before the show with the Lavenders in it something about an airport
and them getting involved with the Mafia (at this point my brand new tape
machine died and started to spew tape out at me and it got slapped v hard
by me so I missed the sketch as I was trying to sort it out and bung in
another tape! *~#***!!!!) As I didn't get home 'til late 'cause I live
miles away from Norwich and I know your all waiting for this I will add
more as I remember or can hear on the crappy tape machine!
Cheers for now - I'm gonna lie down in a darkened room.
to the top
Thanks also to Nicky Jones for writing this review for us:
Portsmouth 21st February, 1999
Take Portsmouth, a cold British seaside port, full of tacky arcades,
peeling salt eroded paint on already dilapidated Victorian architecture.
Take an otherwise tedious Sunday evening and add to this mixture one small
venue, a few people and one Mr Robert Newman.
Having been a Rob fan since my teenage years I jumped at the chance to
finally witness a Rob live experience. And I wasnt to be disappointed!
The show began at Eight oclock with the man himself exploding onto
the stage wearing combat pants and a pink vest with polite
written across the back. The significance of which confused me for a while
but, I came to the conclusion that it was an obtuse reference to political
correctness, or then again maybe there was no joke and the joke was on
everyone who tried to find one.
Starting off a little nervously Rob soon seemed to find his feet launching
into a surreal account of his childhood and how it was so clichéd
that no-one ever believed him when he told them that his first memory
was of a dog running away with a string of sausages from a fat mosey cheeked
man with a handlebar moustache wearing a striped apron. This bought the
first laugh of the show, after which he seemed to relax and go with the
This was followed by what seems to be a favourite subject, that of past
girlfriends. He began with his summary of how his Swedish ex. just could
not do sarcasm. Which is hard to explain in writing but just imagine a
tone in a Swedish accent that is totally inappropriate and you have a
good idea of where the comedic value lies. It was hilarious at the time
for all but the obligatory heckler who began at this point in the show,
by shouting Ive heard this before to which Rob replied
something along the lines of Get yourself away then young man(
which is an obvious euphemism).
This was followed by observations both political and sexual. The best
being his view on how stupid men look during sex and how women turn into
what he described as Writhing Godesses.
The next section of the show, for which Rob donned a beige blazer and
Panama hat, involved an old couple, The Lavenders whose mission
it seemed was one of organised yet blatantly concealed genocide. The portrayal
of whom, really was enough for you to think that when your Grandparents
next make what you once would have considered to be a harmless comment
about murder or some such atrocity, you should be finding the exit and
leaving by it at light speed.
His observation of the public perception of old people as being harmless
was very astute ,well put together and executed with perfect timing in
an intelligent, witty way.
In one scene we meet the Lavenders in a shopping centre after a shooting.
They are walking away from the crime scene and on being stopped by the
police are asked if they saw anything to which they reply, "oh, it
was terrible all those people dead"; Then in a sinister lowered tone
Mr Lavender says "wouldnt it be terrible if there was a shooting
over there, just where were going in about five minutes".
Followed by the return of an old favourite, Jarvis ,who in case youve
never seen him before wears a red velvet smoking jacket and slowly but
sensuously smokes a cigarette through a black holder. Essentially he is
an extremely sex obsessed upperclass English gent who is turned on by
literally any reference to sex however indefinable the link.
His depiction was so convincing that as a woman to use a phrase coined
by the man himself, "It really turned me on." The heckler however
was not so impressed and launched a vitriolic offensive only to be shot
down in flames by the legendary Newman wit. To the delight of the audience
both male and female.
The only low point of the show was Robs unnecessarily wicked treatment
of a fan who naively stood up whilst he was in full flow and asked him
to sign a copy of his book Dependence Day to which Robs
reaction was to take the book and then throw it into the audience, which
I think sent out a bad message as to how he thinks of his fans. This may
have not been what he wanted to achieve but it tainted an otherwise enjoyable
evening. Especially when the aforementioned misguided individual attempted
the same approach again only to receive the same harsh treatment.
Dont get me wrong, the night was ultimately the most enjoyable
night out Ive ever had for £8.50 and upon ending it was no
surprise that Rob received a rousing round of applause so much so that
he returned for an extra ten minutes encore. Which pleased all, (apart
from Mr Heckler), who like a moth to the flame once again found himself
beating against an impenetrable barrier of discerning humour (which is
a bad simile really because when a moth flies into a flame the last thing
it meets is humour, but well). Which automatically united the audience
against said prat and ended the night on a high.
to the top
From The Guardian, by Ludovic Hunter-Tielney:
The Almeida, London, 10th April 1999
Rob Newman, alongside David Baddiel, was instrumental in the tagging
of comedy as the new rock 'n' roll. But having disappeared to write novels,
it seems apt that Newman's return to stand-up at last year's Edinburgh
Festival should reveal a previously unheralded political sensibility.
The show Newman brings to the Almeida mixes stand-up routines and sketches.
The latter, in which he is assisted by Ronnie Ancona and Cath Connor,
begin promisingly with a spoof joyfully mocking Portishead's doom-laden
music. But they soon decline to toothless parodies of television news
Newman's strengths do not lie in satire. His stand-up routines rail against
a 'post-Keynsian, post-Stalinist, post-free market' world ruled by 'elite
corporate power' - overlooking the AT+T logo branded on to his posters
outside. His attempts to put the chuckles into Chomsky, although brave,
meet with only patchy success.
A similar variability affects Newman's comic characters. Jarvis, the
de Sadean dandy, is warmly greeted by a receptive audience; Mr and Mrs
Lavender, a mirthless approximation of the murderous shopkeepers in The
League Of Gentlemen, strike fewer chords.
Newman seems more at ease with the observational and absurd material
for which he remains best known, such as his winning tale of an unfortunate
liaison at Tribal Gathering. Here Newman ponders on the ridiculous postures
men ('rutting bunnies') adopt during sex: very much the Wyman-esque bass
players of the business, while women get to be Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
rolled into one.
He ends by assuring the audience the two subsequent evenings will be
slicker and more polished; and in this he rather charmingly proves himself
his own best critic.
From The Sunday Times, 25th July 1999:
PICK OF THE WEEK
The former teen-god has fleshed out both his waistline and his material,
and he now cuts a mature figure. Newman has a sharply subversive mind,
but it's as good at puncturing his own pretensions as those of the military-industrial
complex, and his politics never overwhelm his comic impulses. He's a great
physical performer, too, not just brilliant at the verbals. The man who
shambles onstage may look like a pub-band roadie, but he's a rock-solid
to the top
Much thanks to Biscuit, as usual, for this review:
Nottingham, 4th November 1999
(Billed as Storytelling and character monologues from his novel in progress)
Well like we joked that Rob prob didn't know what was going on - he was supposed
to be there at 7pm but we had an announcement that he was going to be
late and not be there until 8.15 - so the audience DRANK! - the audience
was quiet small about 25 people ?? - Rob said that when he got there he
was just gonna pop his head around the door at the back of the room and
just cancel if he thought there weren't enough people in the room! but
he then said that because he fell down the stairs people saw him and he
had to come in the room <g> (whether he was taking the piss or not
I couldn't tell) although when he did get on stage he said if ya don't
want me to do the gig - I'll come back and basically asked us if that's
what we wanted! - as we'd all been sitting there for an hour we said he
should do the show.....so reluctantly he did!
The show mainly comprised of a mixture of his stand up and (some crumpled
notes that he kept clutching to his chest!) - which contained stories,
about things he done, (not the new novel) - as he did a mixture of the
two it went OK and he then asked us if we wanted a second half or not!!!
- he said I'll go for a break and if your still here I'll do some other
stuff . He said he'd done a gig in Brighton on Monday for some festival
- and had got very drunk! so couldn't really remember too much about it!
and had also mentioned something about a gig can't remember if that was
in London 'league against tedium'..........he was complaining about being
tired and he looked it - as it had taken an hour of driving around Nottingham
trying to find the gig and then he'd realised that 20 odd people were
there! I think he just wanted to go to his hotel and crash.......fair
He came round the table's in the interval asking whether we wanted a
second half and of course the response was YES! - so he did a second half
that was quite short and a bit of a mess as he said just forget the second
half and go home thinking about the first half - second half comprised
of a political ramble about Debt, mixed with stand-up which worked OK
ish and then he said I'll read some of the stuff I've done for my new
novel and then said ' it's about twins born in Mexico........' then stopped!!!!
- said oh f*ck it I can't do that and didn't do anymore complained about
the audience looking at him with puppy dog eyes because we wanted him
to tell us about his new book! - but instead read a page or two from manners........he
said that it was very difficult for him to do readings and again that
he was tired................
The gig was good but only if you know what Rob's like and I think because
the audience did he got away with it-seemed to be warm up material and
testers, but he did complain about the lack of publicity about the gig
and so this leads me to think that who ever is promoting his gigs nationally
or locally just aren't trying to get him ANY! - you're all advised to
check local papers etc 'cause I think he's doing a lot more than we've
been able to find out about so as always ......keep 'em peeled - he could
be performing in a pub near you!
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