Robert Newman: The comedian on free skating, lies and the evolution of the West End | The independent
I doubt anyone has had a rewarding experience going to an arena comedy concert Big show arenas are ergonomically compromised, although I blame myself for their success because I set a bad precedent. [Newman and his then-comedy partner David Baddiel were the first comedians to sell out the 12,000-seat Wembley Arena, in 1993.] I felt confused and everything was out of time. Even the great Steve Martin struggled [with arena-sized shows]. My favorite concerts are places with low ceilings and the smell of concert juice on the floor.
Skateboarding and stand-up are the only two things I’ve been good at I chose a skateboard during the first wave in 1976 and have been freestyle for 38 years. It was the passion of my life, but now I’m too old to go to a skate park. Instead, I watch tons of skating videos on YouTube and have fantasies about building my own private halfpipe. However, I should wear the kind of panic alarms that older people have around their necks, in case I fall.
I have a new theory of evolution It is not really about the survival of the fittest. It is the survival of the marginalized that generate new species. In the populations, there are always those marginalized in difficulty living on the periphery, isolated from the mainstream, and their genes mutate. So when the going gets tough and suddenly [calamitous] geo-historical changes are occurring in the general population, it is the marginalized who survive.
There have been amazing discoveries in the field of evolutionary biology It turns out that you can inherit the acquired characteristics [the emerging field of epigenetics]. In the news recently, for example, it was shown that when a grandfather rat learned to associate a certain scent with fear, then his offspring and heirs were also frightened at the first puff of the same scent. I was walking home the other day in a recklessly driven minicab from a concert and a pine air freshener was hanging from the mirror. I tried to control my fear because I don’t want my grandchildren to feel nervous in a coniferous forest.
I’m stressed out by all kinds of unimportant things So while I’ll worry about why someone gave me a funny look three months ago, I won’t think about why the person I’m living with just burst into tears. At concerts I can get a double encore but all I will think about is the one guy sitting there with his arms crossed, looking cranky. I’m just gonna be like, “What’s going on with this guy, why does he look so mardy?”
I have complete respect for the boy who attempted the citizen arrest of Tony Blair [The bar worker Twiggy Garcia approached the former Prime Minister at an east London restaurant last month.] I would find it difficult because I am very bad at confrontation – but I admire the courage of someone trying to stop a war criminal who has started an illegal and unprovoked war against Iraq. Should Blair be arrested and charged? Yes, otherwise international law is meaningless.
I would like to be a West End ombudsman making sure the shows live up to their titles While I think no one would complain if there was no mockingbird in To Kill a Mockingbird, or no cat in Cat we have Hot Tin Roof, when I am told there are 12 men angry: well that’s something [to complain about]. In my opinion, only six of them are really angry. Two of them sulk, and as for the other four …
Robert Newman, 49, is a comedian and author of four novels, including “The Trade Secret” from last year. He is currently touring the UK with his show ‘New Theory of Evolution’. For tickets: robnewman.com