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DANIEL NILS ROBERTS: HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN ONE HOUR What a mass


Come on an adventure through time and space with UK comedian Daniel Nils Roberts, on an absurd multimedia pelt through the history of everything, as this FRINGE WORLD’s Best Comedy nominee crams the entirety of recorded time into just one show. Fresh from London’s West End smash-hit Austentatious, he’s attempting to cover the bizarre and colourful history of this terrestrial ball at the Mezzanine Bar at Cheeky Sparrow from Tuesday, February 5 to Saturday, February 9 (get more info and tickets here). He spoke to BRAYDEN EDWARDS about some of people’s biggest misconceptions of history, characters that clearly belonged in another time and why even humble organisms like moss could still teach the human race a thing or two.

So how does the history of the world stack up as a subject for a comedy show? There’s so much you could get into so where did you think was the best place to start?

I’ve definitely bitten off more than I can chew, haven’t I? Even I’m struggling to see how I can fulfill the claim of my title, but you’ll have to come along to see if it all gets crammed in. History’s generally pretty ripe for comedy – it was basically a lot of falling over with different bad haircuts. In terms of the best place to start, I kicked off with the Big Bang, because Stephen Hawking said everything before then “had no observational consequences”. I don’t know what that means, but it sounds like it would be hard to be funny about it.

There are a lot of astounding facts about the timeline of the world, such as us being closer now to the time of the T-Rex than the Stegosaurus was or closer to the time of Cleopatra now than the pyramids being built. What do you think is the most surprising example of the history of the world that people are way off the mark about?

Those facts are amazing. Is it too late to draft you in as my writing team? Things people are way off the mark about? These questions are really tough. I feel like I’m taking an exam. Is this a covert survey by Australian customs to supplement my visa application? I promise not to bring any soil in. Napoleon wasn’t actually very short. People get that all wrong.

And what characters in history do you think were definitely meant to be born in another time?

There’s an incredibly rich bloke called Dickson Poon who has funded several new university faculties in the UK. It might have been ideal for him to go back to before his name was a really unwise thing to write in ten foot letters on the front of a prominent building.

If you could travel back in time to one year in history just for the day, what would it be and why?

This calls for a bit of pragmatism. Let’s be honest, if you go too far back everything would just be a bit disgusting and disease-ridden. It would be hard to make the most of meeting Shakespeare, for example, if you’re knee deep in human crap, rats up your breeches, peasants coughing smallpox on you as they try and get you hanged for being Catholic. No amount of sonnets would make up for that sort of carnage. So I’d play it safe and go for something quite recent. I had some stonking tacos the other day. Butternut squash, braised beef, lime, coriander – wouldn’t mind another crack at them.

Human beings have only been around for a tiny fraction of the world’s history. Are there some other species, even if they’re just moss or parasites, that we could learn a thing or two from?

I was going to scoff that you’re being overly optimistic about moss, but then moss didn’t vote for Brexit, so it’s obviously doing something right. It would also do a better deal of negotiating a severance deal with the EU after triggering Article 51. Can we get moss in government over here? Is that an option? I’d vote for moss.

And if humans, like other species, have been evolving for some time now where do you think we can go next? What is humanity’s main deficit that a few million years will hopefully amend?

I always spill when I try and pour things. Maybe we could evolve to stamp that out. One of our hands could be a funnel. A fleshy hand funnel.

Summarising the history of the world in an hour is pretty impressive, but if you had to be really succinct how would you describe it in just three words?

What a mess.

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