15 June 2013

Science Showoff

I've been meaning to blog about this for a little while now after attending my first ever Science Showoff on 23 May in Bristol, where fun and lols were had by all.

You're probably wondering what Science Showoff is? It's an open mic night for all communicators of science; scientists, science communicators, science teachers, historians and philosophers of science, students, science popularisers and anyone else with something to show off about science.

It happens at least once a month in London, but also all over the UK. It began in October 2011, brought to you by the same people who founded Bright Club from University College London (UCL) and raises a hell of a lot of money for charity. Each person's set lasts no more than 9 minutes and can be on pretty much anything you want in any style you please.

If, at this point, I've already made you want to take part, visit www.scienceshowoff.org to sign-up for an event.

I'm a big fan of both stand-up comedy and science so this sort of event is right up my street. Its  existense was brought to my attention by friend and colleague Ceri-Wyn Thomas, who was featuring at the Bristol event. She is a brilliant scientist, super funny female and wonderful wordsmith. I was in!

A pretext to the evening aboard the Grain Barge is given on their blog here, described in comedic and accurate prose. Far better than I could manage. My post will merely provide some thoughts and photos of the evening. The 10 participants, along with the compere Steve Cross, had me guffawing for hours!

Ceri's set 'Ecdysis: One woman’s intimate relationship with stripping off’ on arthropods was brilliantly funny whilst also being educational. She does a cracking Welsh accent — helped by having Welsh parents no doubt but still great nonetheless — and was rather animated. So much so in fact, she is but a blur in this photo.

Combining music, science and comedy was this fellow, Mark Lewney's idea. And his execution was perfect!

A comedic tag team also featured as Emily Coyte and Audrey Nailor joked about the science of memetics and it being much more than a penguin who can’t talk to girls or a grumpy cat. They were also very animated. Cue another blurry photo. When their set ended, I had a strong desire to heckle 'Cool story bro!'... I resisted my urge but treated Audrey to it after she came off stage. The result of which was for her to hug me! Pretty much the best heckle outcome ever.

Becky Holmes combined her two passions in life; science and firemen! I particularly enjoyed her use of an infrared camera. Oh and her managing to rope our co-worker Gui into strutting his stuff in firefighting gear!

Ross Exton — whose arm looks freakishly long and misshapen in this photo thanks to the lights — presented us his MegaAnimal. More specifically, replacing the worst parts of a human with the best parts of other creatures. Brilliant.

Sadly, I didn't get photos of all the presenters — I was clearly far too busy laughing and enjoying my cider. The others included the problem with scientific faith and cycle helmets; the world’s longest running scientific experiments; observing cell biology fundamentals with a microscope from Argos; firework and pyrotechnics; and Louisiana's state reptile, the alligator.

The whole evening was fantastic! There were several points of pure hilarity but it was also very enthusing. Myself and the secret acapella group might even have something (very early) in the pipeline along the lines of combining music, science and comedy with a chance that we're going to sign ourselves up for Bristol's next Science Showoff.

If I haven't made you want to take part then perhaps you will visit www.scienceshowoff.org to find the next one near you because I definitely recommend going; you'll have a great night!


  1. Sounds like a really interesting night - I've never even heard of it before!

    Will have to pop along one evening! x

    1. It was definitely interesting but also rather fun, too. I hadn't heard of it before either.

      I'm not sure when the next Bristol one is but I do recommend it if you like science and stand-up comedy!