Comedy theory is still evolving

Rob Newman
Rob Newman
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Comedian Rob Newman’s latest show looking at evolution keeps on, well, evolving.

Rob, who came to fame in the 1990s when he was in a double act with David Baddiel, is a writer and political activist as well as a stand-up comedian.

He has toured locally before with his New Theory of Evolution but keeps adding material. “I did it in Edinburgh and added in a couple of new songs. Since then, in sensational news!, it’s going to be a Radio Four series,” he said.

“I’m still putting lots of new things in and trying out new stuff for the radio show. It’s going to be an A to Z of evolution.”

In the show, Rob describes the 150-year controversy in evolutionary theory that began the moment that Darwin published his famous book.

Rob explores how the latest science demonstrates that DNA is not destiny. He argues that cooperation drives evolution more than competition.

He’s very engaging on the subject, making it accessible with some great examples.

One is that wolves do a little martial arts-style bow before they play-fight each other.

If one accidentally hurts the other, they’ll bow again.

“If one uses the play bow as a way of actually trying to attack another wolf, they actually get ejected from that wolf pack, which is practically a death sentence as they don’t hunt well alone.”

He’s in the middle of turning the show into a book as well, which will be full of lots of footnotes and additions to round out the arguments.

This time round he’s not coming to the Last Laugh Comedy Festival in Sheffield, joking: “This is my own comedy festival at the Civic.”

He’s off to stay with a friend in Leeds as there’s a singular lack of Malmaisons in Barnsley, he adds dryly.

Don’t worry, Rob certainly hasn’t lost his left-wing roots.

When he appears in Bradford Playhouse on November 1, for example, it’s to do a joint benefit for CND and the quaintly-named Destitute Asylum Seekers Huddersfield.

He plays a ukulele guitar in his shows and is currently trying to lighten his load as he drags all his musical gear around, often travelling by train when he’s on tour.

So if you see a grumpy man on the train to Barnsley trying to manhandle a uke, a little amp and a rucksack, it’ll probably be Rob. Don’t forget to cooperate and give him a hand.

Rob is at the Civic next Friday (October 24). Tickets: or call 01226 327000