Robert Newman: The Brain Show

In a previous show, we witnessed Robert Newman intellectually tear down Dawkin’s view of evolution. Now in his second science-themed piece, Newman pierces deep into the heart of fashionable pop science and cynical neuroscience. It’s a show that again proves that Newman might just be the most intelligent comedian working today.

If you are looking for a show that’s going to make you feel smarter by the time you leave the room while having a good laugh along the way this is a show for you.

The main thread of the show revolves around Newman’s inclusion in a scientific experiment that aimed to find what part of the brain dealt with love. This, argues Newman, only serves to perpetuate the notion that the human brain is much like a computer and diminishes the complexity of human nature to a simple formula.

There is a lot of complicated ideas floating around during the show but they are simplified by humorous analogies. It’s a testament to great communication that the topics never become laborious or difficult to follow. Newman’s stage presence seems so effortlessly reassuring, that the audience is happy to follow him down any rabbit hole of ideas.

Many of the jokes rely on a vulnerability that only a master comedian can obtain. The material about the next door neighbour is a thoroughly well-observed skit, and many will recognise a similar figure in their own lives. Some of the best jokes rely heavily on what seems like quite a clever idea or set up and then a stupid punchline follows. It’s a good system and it makes it difficult to detect when a joke is coming.

Hardcore science fans might find the show shallow and a bit simple for them but most of us are playing catch up. Fans of his previous work will also find a few familiar jokes in the mix as well. If you are looking for a show that’s going to make you feel smarter by the time you leave the room while having a good laugh along the way this is a show for you.

Reviews by James W. Woe

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

After volunteering for a brain-imaging experiment meant to locate the part of the brain that lights up when you’re in love, Robert emerges with more questions than answers. 'The Brain Show is a delight’ (Daily Telegraph). **** (Guardian). 'Newman combines proper scientific argument with dazzling shafts of wit' (Times). 'During the show Newman wears a large flashing helmet to demonstrate his brain activity during a study of guilt… hilarious... Delightfully eccentric’ (Nature). ‘He is one amazing comedian’ (Time Out).