11 Jan 2006
Peak Oil Can Be Fun!
Well, not so much fun as funny. Robert Newman is, alongside Mark Thomas, a new breed of comic. He sees the time he has on the stage with an audience as an opportunity not only to make them laugh but also to make them think. His show, **Apocalypso Now**, recently released on CD, makes geopolitics, US global hegemony and peak oil something you can both be enlightened about while rolling around laughing. I particularly liked his comparison of the fact that the oil producing nations trade in dollars ( a subject explored in more depth in W.R. Clark’s ‘Petrodollar Warfare: Oil, Iraq and the Future of the Dollar’ with the effect that the US is the world’s most endebted nations but no-one calls in the debts so long as the dollar remains the global currency for oil trading, to Salvador Dali’s final years.
Dali, Newman relates, used to go to fabulously expensive restaurants with all his entourage, dine like kings, and at the end the manager would come to Dali with the vast bill. Dali would write the cheque, sign it, then turn it over, and then just before he gave it to the manager, draw a picture on the back, sign and date it. The manager would say “oh, Mr Dali, this is amazing, I will never cash it, I shall frame it and hang it behind the bar….”.
Newman addresses peak oil in a clear way, he doesn’t shy away from the scale of the challenge. He is very well informed and insightful, and also makes it very funny. This is a rare thing, comedy that also sends us scurrying home to look up history books about treaties and incidents from decades ago. His main message is ‘learn your history’. ‘Apocalypso Now’ is a double CD. Emma and I stayed up till the early hours searching Wikipedia about the causes of World War One, and the role oil played in that. It was most enlightening.