Gordon Southern's A Brief History of History

Delivering his show in the style of a history lecture, Gordon Southern attempts to take the audience through history as we know it in its entirety in one single hour. Realising he has set himself quite a grand task, the cheerfully upbeat comedian jumps straight into pre-history, followed by evolution, the Egyptian era, the Greek and Roman Empires and, of course, the Spartans.

Taking small breaks in between his energetic, fast-paced set to hand out gold stars to selected ‘pupils’ and generally interact with audience members, he soars through the birth and death of Jesus Christ - comparing his death at 33 with drummers John Bonham and Keith Moon who also died at the same age - before covering the middle ages, all 800 years, in a 90 second rap, or as he calls it, “lyrical, historical truth bombs”. At record speeds, he talks through the creation of Islam, Vikings and how the 100 Years War as essentially a very long game of Dungeons and Dragons - a surprisingly convincing argument.

His little asides of historical royal rumbles, featuring Attila The Hun vs. Genghis Khan, among others, are a definite highlight, and added a bit of fun to our rather dark and dreary history. With the use of multimedia - a slide show and a small and often misbehaving soundboard - giving his stand up performance a bit more substance, he then talked us through some historical figures such as Leonardo Di Vinci with his many great inventions and Christopher Columbus with his not entirely exclusive discovery of the Americas. Admitting to missing out huge chunks of his set, Southern stormed ahead, trying to keep a steady flow to his rather slapdash performance, though at times it was obvious his mind was busy trying to remember what came next, which was distracting to watch.

Almost gasping for breath at this stage, Southern takes one last long sprint through the following decades, covering the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the Great Depression and its current re-run, and how historians absurdly claim that the end of the Cold War in 1989 marked the end of history itself. Citing technology as one of the best things about history, he credits Wikipedia for the existence of his whole show. Rather bizarrely he finishes with some moments from his own history which is a bit of an anti-climax.

This is a good show with a few good laughs in it but if you decide not to see it, it wouldn’t be the end of the world or of history.

Since you’re here…

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The Blurb

All history. One hour. With jokes. Lightning fast edu-tainment romp. Everything, ever in hardly any detail. Total sell-out Melbourne Comedy Festival 2012. 'Poetic, clever and joyfully freewheeling' **** (Chortle.co.uk).

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