Tag: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Melbourne International Science Festival?

Of course there’s no such thing. But every year I try to inject a little science into the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, usually through the medium of the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour. This year is no different – and you can get all the goss, and tickets, over at museumcomedy.com.

But, I sense you wonder, what else are you doing? Surely you have something more directly science-y in the works? And, well…I sort of do. It’s true that my focus has wandered in recent years, taking in a broader geeky scope than just science. It’s one of the reasons I haven’t written often here on the blog – I try to confine myself to science topics, and yet a lot of my time is taken up thinking about games, stories, politics and other things. Mostly in a geeky context, of course. For this reason, my next solo show – or shows, it might be two – is also broader in scope. Roughly 25% of it will be science based, but the other 75% will be the other three quadrants of the geek equation.

But this is all part and parcel of my life, both as a person and as a comedian. You can read about the comedy output on my production company site, Shaolin Punk, and more specifically about Museum Comedy on its own site. This place…well, this is about me as a solo performer, and if I’m going to me more broadly geeky, then so is this site. I’ll still write about science topics close to my heart – so expect things about dinosaurs, space, evolution and so on – but I’ll also be writing about the other things that matter to me.  I’ll tag things, though, so you can filter stuff out, but it’s time I talked more here, and that means opening it up.

I’m curious, though; assuming anyone reads this still, what do you want to see? What would you like to hear me talk about? I’m entirely open to suggestions. Maybe I’ll even start a podcast. Who knows?

I’ll tell you who knows. Only the future. Let’s go hang out there.

A Good Month

It’s been a busy month for me, as you might imagine, what with four shows in the Comedy Festival and appearances in others. As well as +1 Sword, Dungeon Crawl and the Museum Comedy programme – all of which are going very well, by the way – this Friday is one of the special ones: the Political Asylum Comedy Caucus, two hours of top-notch topical political stand-up from our regular team, plus Rod Quantock and a special international guest (I’ll give you a hint: he’s from New York). On top of all that, it was my birthday, my Mum’s come for a visit, my beloved opened her smashing new cabaret show (First Against the Wall), and I’m still working three days a week.

Hardly surprising then that I’ve not blogged much; I’ve hardly had time to catch up to my beloved in Dragon Age: Origins (which is better than Mass Effect, I think). I had to break my busy silence though to celebrate, because it’s been a good month for science!

First, the Large Hadron Collider has been turned on. It’s been a long time coming, and the world hasn’t ended; indeed the press didn’t seem to notice until it was all over. Now, of course, we have to look at the data that the various sensors and arrays and detectors have collected, and see what it tells us about the Universe. It’s going to be an exciting few years…

It’s also been a good month for Simon Singh. In 2008, he mentioned in an opinion piece in The Guardian that he felt certain chiropractic treatments promoted by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) were “bogus”. For his trouble, he was sued – successfully, in the first instance – by the BCA under the UK’s harsh libel laws. This week? He won an appeal, and what’s more, the appeal court judges were very critical of the BCA’s behaviour – it looked like it was trying to “silence one of its critics” – and of the original judge, who has “marginalised or underrated the value now placed by the law on public debate”. Read more about it in The Telegraph.

In a similar vein, the University of East Anglia scientists whose emails were stolen and publicised as “Climategate”, which supposedly revealed the “truth” behind the “Anthropogenic Global Warming conspiracy”, were cleared by a parliamentary enquiry. The response recognises that they could have been more open in sharing their data, but most of it was already publicly available and the methods for obtaining and analysing it published. They had a culture of “stonewalling” critics at the university, but then when the majority of requests for your data are from people hoping to undermine your research, that might be forgiven… The main point, though, was that plenty of other institutions have come to the same conclusions from data, so even if they had falsified anything, other research still rejects any notion of a conspiracy.

Those are my reasons for a good month. I’ll talk about them some more, with more jokes in, on Friday night. Maybe I’ll see you there?

Set phasers to “Laugh”…?

So said the Melbourne International Comedy Festival iPhone app. It seems they truly have embraced the way of the geek – if not entirely successfully.

Anyway, the Man in the Lab Coat will be out and about a lot this year, and while a new solo science show is still a little way off – there is one in the making, I promise! – there’s no shortage of opportunities to see me be funny.

The biggest news is that the Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour is back and bigger than ever! For the first time we have international tour guides, not six but nine performances, and no Ben McKenzie. Yes, it’s true, I am producing but not performing this year, but that just means someone else will be writing new dinosaur jokes for your edification! As well as the tour, there’s also Melbourne Museum Lunchtime Comedy, a Saturday lunchtime series science and history based comedy from some of the smartest stars of the Comedy Festival. The whole thing’s so big now that it deserves its own web site – so I’ve given it one. Head over to museumcomedy.com to find out who’s on when and where!

The main reason I won’t be doing jokes about dinosaurs is because I’ll be too busy doing jokes about dragons. Yes, the sell-out, literally underground hit of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, +1 Sword, returns for another season at Caz Reitops Dirty Secrets in Collingwood. If you’ve ever wondered what Dungeons & Dragons is all about, now’s your chance to wield a wand and swing a sword and learn everything you never knew you could know about the world’s first and most popular fantasy role-playing game. And if that’s not enough, for three nights only you can watch some of your favourite comedians from around the festival go on the archetypal monster-killing, treasure collecting adventure in the improvised show, Dungeon Crawl. You can find out lots more about the show over at my production company web site, Shaolin Punk.

Plus, I’ll be doing a few guest spots around the festival, including the comedy festival special edition of Political Asylum and the second Annual General Meeting of my old sketchtastic friends, the Anarchist Guild Social Committee. Details in the new and improved gigs list to the right, and on the [intlink id=”186″ type=”page”]Where and When?[/intlink] page.

So yeah – it’s a big festival for the Man. And there’s more news to come, so stay tuned!

Museum Tour – thank you!

The [intlink id=”85″ type=”page”]Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour[/intlink] finished a few short weeks ago, but in some ways it feels like an age. Six nights of sold out marlarkey! I should also mention that we received a small number of lovely reviews, including the Groggy Squirrel and Richard Watts of The Age.

Thank you to Janet A. McLeod and Andy Muirhead, my fellow science comedians; to Bernard Caleo and all the staff and volunteers at the Museum; to Gail Miller, my fearless co-producer; and of course to everyone who bought tickets and came to see the show. For those of you who missed out, don’t despair – I suspect we will be back! You can keep your eye on the blog to find out when and where.

And don’t forget, National Science Week is coming up in August – if not before, you’ll see the Man in the Lab Coat again then, doing…something. In the meantime, now that festival madness has abated, I will be writing a few more blog posts, and there are other projects in the works too. I’ll be around a bit more!

The Man in the Media

I’m popping up in a few places this week, so look out if you’re up for a dose of enthusiastic science geekery!

Matt Smith – no, not the new Doctor, but the lovely man putting together The Pun’s PunCast interviews – spoke to me the other day about the [intlink id=”85″ type=”page”]Melbourne Museum Comedy Tour[/intlink], the Anarchist Guild Social Committee and Graeme Garden. It was excellent fun, and I hope you’ll enjoy listening to our conversation, which you can find in PunCast Episode 9.

Also, if you’re in Melbourne, be sure to tune in to Channel 31 on Monday, April 20 for Yartz, where the irrepressible (but no less lovely than Matt Smith) Ralph McLean asked me the hard questions about dinosaurs at Melbourne Museum. This one will probably also end up on YouTube, I’m told – I’ll be sure to link to it when it does!

Speaking of the tour, you do all know that it begins this Thursday (April 16), right? And that the first week is nearly sold out? Book your tickets now or get them at the door (there are still a few left for Friday and Saturday), and we’ll see you there!