Robert Newman (comedian)

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Rob Newman
Robert Newman, The Trade Secret Reading and Signing, Islington Waterstones (8642564536).jpg
Robert Newman at the Islington Waterstones
Born Robert Newman
(1964-07-07) 7 July 1964 (age 49)
Residence London, UK, UK
Occupation Comedian
Author
Actor
Known for Political activism
Website
www.robnewman.com

Robert ("Rob") Newman (born 7 July 1964) is a British comedian, author and political activist. In 1993 Newman and his then comedy partner David Baddiel became the first comedians to play and sell out the 12,000-seat Wembley Arena in London. He was born to a Greek Cypriot father and British mother.

Newman's first speaking appearance was with Third World First (now known as People and Planet), the student political organisation. In addition to comedy and writing, he has also worked as a paperboy in Whitwell, Hertfordshire, farmhand, warehouse-man, house-painter, teacher, mail sorter, social worker, mover, and broadcaster.

Comedy career[edit]

Newman read English at Selwyn College, Cambridge.[1] He began his comedy career as an impressionist in the late 1980s before gaining fame when he appeared alongside fellow Cambridge alumni David Baddiel, Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt in the BBC radio and TV programme The Mary Whitehouse Experience (1989–92).[2] The title referred to the main campaigner for "moral decency" on television, Mary Whitehouse. With The Mary Whitehouse Experience, Newman and Baddiel had become "unlikely pin-ups as, in the early 1990s, comedy was being fêted as 'the new rock and roll'," leading to their own series, Newman and Baddiel in Pieces (1993).[3]

The partnership with Baddiel was widely reported as being fraught with tension.[4] Unlike most double acts, their shows (both on TV and stage) were characterised by the two alternately delivering monologues, rarely appearing together except in sketches (most famously, History Today). During the "Live and in Pieces" tour, relations deteriorated further, and the Wembley show was widely and accurately predicted to be their last appearance together.

After the break-up, the two men took wildly differing career paths. While Baddiel became part of the "new lad" phenomenon of the mid-1990s, fronting shows like Fantasy Football League, Newman largely disappeared from public life, reappearing with solo work marked by a clear social conscience and anti-establishment views.[5] He covered the anti-globalisation Seattle protests of 1999 for the UK's Channel 4 News.[6] He has been politically active with Reclaim the Streets, the Liverpool Dockers, Indymedia and Peoples' Global Action.[7][8][9]

His later work is characterised by a very strong political element, and parallels the work of contemporaries such as Mark Thomas.[10] In 2003 Newman toured with From Caliban to the Taliban, which was released on CD and DVD. In 2005 the show Apocalypso Now or, from P45 to AK47, how to Grow the Economy with the Use of War debuted at the Bongo Club during the 2005 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[11] Apocalypso Now toured nationally, sometimes as part of a double-bill where Newman was joined by Mark Thomas. The show was filmed at the Hoxton Hall in Hoxton, east London and shown on More4 under the title A History of Oil, with a later release on CD and DVD. A mixture of stand-up comedy and introductory lecture on geopolitics and peak oil in Apocalypso Now Newman argues that twentieth-century Western foreign policy, including World War I, should be seen as a continuous struggle by the West to control Middle Eastern oil.[12], [13] Newman draws from Richard Heinberg's book The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies as source material for portions of the show dealing with peak oil.[14]

In 2006 Newman performed a new show, No Planet B or, The History of the World Backwards, at the Tricycle Theatre in Kilburn, north-west London.[15] In 2007, the BBC commissioned a six-part series, The History of the World Backwards based on No Planet B, for transmission on BBC Four.[16], [17] The script of the stage version show is accessible on Newman's official website.[18]

Writing[edit]

Newman co-wrote The Mary Whitehouse Experience Encyclopedia (1991), with David Baddiel, Hugh Dennis, and Steve Punt.

He is the author of four novels: Dependence Day (1994); Manners (1998); The Fountain at the Centre of The World (2003); and The Trade Secret (2013).

The Fountain at the Centre of the World[edit]

Dwight Garner, an editor of The New York Times Book Review, reviewed The Fountain at the Centre of the World favorably, saying it was "the talismanic Catch-22 of the anti-globalisation protest movement, the fictional complement to Naomi Klein's influential exposé No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies.[19]

Newman's process of writing the book is the subject of a BBC Two television documentary entitled Scribbling.[20], [21]

Filmography and bibliography[edit]

The Mary Whitehouse Experience
Newman and Baddiel
  • 1991 – From the Mary Whitehouse Experience (live VHS release).
  • 1992 – History Today (live VHS release).
  • 1993 – Newman and Baddiel in Pieces (television series).
  • 1993 – Live and in Pieces (live VHS release).
Solo career
  • 1994 – Dependence Day (novel).
  • 1994 – The Dependence Day Video (live VHS release).
  • 1998 – Manners (novel).
  • 2001 – Resistance is Fertile (live VHS release).
  • 2003 – Scribbling (television special).
  • 2003 – The Fountain at the Centre of the World (novel). ISBN 1-85984-573-8 (10).
  • 2004 – From Caliban to the Taliban: 500 Years of Humanitarian Intervention (live DVD release).
  • 2004 – From Caliban to the Taliban: 500 Years of Humanitarian Intervention (live limited edition handmade 2 cd release).
  • 2005 – Apocalypso Now or, from P45 to AK47, how to Grow the Economy with the Use of War (live 2 cd release).
  • 2006 – A History of Oil (television special).
  • 2007 – A History of Oil (live DVD release).
  • 2007 – The History of the World Backwards (television series).
  • 2013 - The Trade Secret (novel) ISBN 1-90888-517-3 (10)

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Rob Newman: My Secret Life". independent.co.uk. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  2. ^ "Rob Newman: My Secret Life". independent.co.uk. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  3. ^ "Comedy Guide: Newman and Baddiel in Pieces". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  4. ^ "BBC Comedy – People A–Z – Rob Newman". Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  5. ^ Hughes, Graham (23 November 2005). "Review: Mark Thomas And Rob Newman Live". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  6. ^ "Rob Newman: My Secret Life". independent.co.uk. 27 December 2007. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  7. ^ "Biography". The most splendid electrical website of Robert Newman. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  8. ^ Charlé, Suzanne (8 March 2004). 2004-03-08 "Write On". American Prospect. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  9. ^ Lougher, Sharon (6 July 2006). "Robert Newman". metro.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  10. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (3 August 2005). "No laughing matter". guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  11. ^ Awle, Nick. "Reviews: Robert Newman: Apocalypso Now". The Stage Newspaper. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  12. ^ Greenwell, Michael. "History of Oil – Rob Newman". Spinwatch. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  13. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (3 August 2005). "No laughing matter". guardian.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  14. ^ Hamilos, Paul (31 March 2006). "There's No Planet B: Interview: Robert Newman [41-min. audio clip (podcast)". guardian.co.uk (Blog). Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  15. ^ Spencer, Charles (7 May 2006). "History boy needs more jokes". telegraph.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  16. ^ "BBC Four Programmes: The History of the World Backwards". bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  17. ^ "Robert Newman's The History of the World Backwards". The most splendid electrical website of Robert Newman. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  18. ^ "No Planet B – The History of the World Backwards". The most splendid electrical website of Robert Newman. July 2006. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  19. ^ Garner, Dwight (1 February 2004). "The Battle of Seattle". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  20. ^ "Scribbling". Wall to Wall. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 
  21. ^ "ANSWER THE QUESTIONS! Robert Newman – Writing? It's the lack of heavy". Independent on Sunday. 11 May 2003. Archived from the original on 19 November 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-19. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]