Stand-Up Comedy and Social Change — Robert Newman Reviews his Reviews

FromTwo Thumbs Down

by Robert Newman 


What significance that Tony Blair confessed to Jon Snow that he had never heard of Mossadegh, the elected Iranian prime minister we overthrew? If things have disappeared down the memory hole then it must be with good reason.

But I think that, rather than do gags about 1066, Nelson, Napoleon – virgin territory though that is for the comedian – it’s more exciting to talk about the Black Panthers. Not only am I interested in history from below, but I was also flukey enough when researching the show to have direct access to unpublished first-hand oral accounts of the Black Panthers from which I quoted directly. Also, the Black Panthers just happen to be the most important social movement of the 1960s; FBI chief J Edgar Hoover described them as “the single greatest threat to the internal security of the United States”. That’s pretty amazing, I think.

In No Planet B – The History of the World Backwards, I wanted to explore what the Panthers might have achieved were it not for the FBI’s murderous campaign against them. And I wanted to explore that because I believe such grassroots revolutionary movements are the only political force that can stop climate change, because capitalism has no Plan B. Again, abstruse stuff of purely academic interest, as happily all such urgent imperatives only exist way over yonder on Planet B.

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