Robert Newman and Mark Thomas

Went to see Robert Newman and Mark Thomas at the Broadway Theatre last night. Mark Thomas was pretty good, purveying less agitprop than he did with last year’s “boycott Coca Cola because they collude with murdering Colombian paramilitaries” tour. Unfortunately, for his regular attendees, there was some repeated material, which was a shame, since he’s usually not short of new material.
Thomas at least knows how to tell a joke and make people laugh, though, something that Robert Newman appears to have forgotten. I last saw Newman at the infamous Wembley Arena gig he did with David Baddiel back in the early 90s and he seems to have degenerated since then. Fair enough, Newman had a cold, but not only did he mumble most of his act, it was absolutely incoherent. And, oh dear, he appears to have read a book or two and wants to show off.


That, to some extent, was always part of his comic persona, David Baddiel being the intellectual who desperately wanted to be a lad but couldn’t quite make it, and Newman being the lad who desperately wanted to be an intellectual – but couldn’t quite make it.
This was dismal, student conspiracy theory stuff, though: First World War started to safeguard oil in Iraq; current war in Iraq to punish Iraqi government for trying to switch its oil accounts to euros and undermine the dollar as the reserve currency? Dear oh dear, Rob. You need to learn some basic economics and history before you can start spouting stuff like that on stage.
Even his little lecture on the world’s energy supply problems appears to have been the result of reading a single book on the subject. Gassing on about zinc-powered engines of the future when aluminium and boron show greater promise? Worrying about the oil supply needed for farm machinery without mentioning how diesel engines could be run off vegetable oils? You need to start reading decent magazines like the New Scientist and The Economist, rather than US authors who’ll pump out any old rubbish to the converted for a quick buck, Rob.
I could have forgiven him for all that garbage if he’d actually been funny, but the jokes were pretty thinly spread. Next time, Mr Thomas, cut the deadwood and leave the supporting act at home, please.