Rob Newman occupies a very niche position, as the nation’s sole comedian of philosophy.
This is comedy about as Radio 4 as you can get, and doubtless tonight’s audience at the Rondo is crammed with intellectuals. Sure enough, we’re straight in with talk of Nietzsche.
Is this dry and academic? No, of course not. This is about meeting Nietzsche at the bus stop, wearing two pairs of sunglasses (!); and such foolery continues throughout the evening as he wanders the stage, rambling amiably through various and hilarious challenges to accepted philosophical norms, with anecdotes from his own life, and encounters with, in his opinion, mistaken academics.
There are riffs on Bulgarians, since he’s married to one, and on many topics of current threat to us and the planet.
Yes, it does include references to Hegel, Schopenhauer, and many others in philosophy land, but always with a sly and very funny take, while at the same time making some very meaningful comments on life, the universe and everything. All while coping with a dodgy microphone.
To say that this is a ‘work in progress’ suggests that this piece has further progress to make, though it’s clear that it has made a great deal of progress already.
Which means future audiences can look forward to an even more brilliant evening of a very left-field, unique style of comedic fun. And a working microphone. Lucky them!
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Reviewer: John Christopher Wood