Rob Newman. Total Eclipse of Descartes. The Stand. 15.9.19

The best comedy gigs are often those which have much more subtle things going on than the obvious; the ones which make people laugh not at the anecdotes of the comedian, but at themselves. The best comedy gigs, on reflection, are those which give us the gift of self-reflection.

That said, you’d have to have a pretty high self-opinion to even imagine seeing yourself in the anecdotes of Rob Newman; perhaps the zenith of intellectual, academic, comedy. Filled with references to academia and philosophy, Newman’s tour de force is a journey around the ancient philosophical world, reflecting great teachings and suggestions back into our modern world and life choices. A little overly rehearsed in places, and lacking spontaneity in others, ‘Total Eclipse’ is nevertheless a brilliant piece of writing designed to influence our behaviours by getting under our skin in ways that most lectures do not. Neither forcing an opinion, or asking you to arrive at one, ‘Tour’ presents interesting revelations about human behaviour, and mixes them with funny asides, to showcase an interesting story arc. Delivered in a way which results in clever academic titillations, rather than laugh out loud moments, ‘Total’ is more interesting than it is humorous. But when you’re as funny and original, not to say bright, as Newman, you can get away with pretty much everything. Self-reflection a plenty.

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