A Complete and Comprehensive History of the Roman Empire in Less Than an Hour - With Jokes

Misnomer number one of the title; it does actually last a full hour. Misnomer number two of the title; it contains only some jokes. Ed O’Meara is a charming and likeable comic who seems to have bitten off far more than he can chew. The consequence: too many bits that don’t work but need to be in the show to support its concept.

By picking ancient history as his subject O’Meara has guaranteed a certain kind of audience member: polite, educated and perhaps ever so slightly unamused by edgier material. Unfortunately, this means that when he resorted to a routine about the rape of the Sabines, he produced an atmosphere as awkwardly quiet as a disused vomitorium.

O’Meara’s technique seems to be to release a titbit of Roman fact and then compare it to something easier to understand in the modern world. It would then be that image of the modern world that would get the laughs rather than the piece of history. When this is repeated for an hour (not less than an hour - an hour) one begins to feel that the actual Roman part of the show is quite redundant.

It is when O’Meara does his little asides of a more standard comic nature that he is at the best. He is clearly a funny comedian, self-deprecating and affable. He just seems swamped at times by the weight of the hundreds of years of history that he has to get through. Eventually the room started to groan when they were told that there was yet another emperor to get through, or yet another war. One imagined Caesar’s last death-throes, and somewhat envied him.

The show is ultimately more interesting than it is funny. For instance, Romans apparently referred to all fruit as apples. This is an interesting fact, but not funny. Consequently O’Meara’s joke about it was worth listening to, but not laughing at. Too many bits like this should have been cut and thrown to the lions.

Reviews by Rory Mackenzie

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Performances

The Blurb

From Romulus to Romulus Augustulus, over one thousand years of Roman history with jokes from a comedy award-winning history graduate.