The Festival of the Spoken Nerd was supposed to end tonight but it has been extended by two nights. If you are very quick and very lucky you might be able to grab a ticket for the remaining shows. This is a show worth catching. It’s worth fighting for a ticket.
Fire and biscuits.
Doctor Who and audio illusions.
The clue is in the title – the Spoken Nerd. If you think a Nerd show might appeal to you then the Festival of the Spoken Nerd probably will.
From the get-go The Festival of the Spoken Nerd is in Venue 150. That’s the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. That’s a very nice location. There is lots of space inside for queuing and even a bar with seats if you get there very early.
The crowd slowly became entranced by the pre-show screen. We got to watch an evolutionary algorithm try and design a cart that could traverse the landscape. There was an audible “aww” as the program was turned off and Helen Arney, Matt Parker and Steve Mould took the stage. However, that aww was soon transformed into laughs.
This is a comedy. Festival of the Spoken Nerd might smuggle in lots of science but this is really a chance to laugh at intelligent jokes – and laugh at innuendo too. Nerds are great for innuendo provided they’re safely inside their comfort zone.
The three presenters each have their own niche. Helen Arney sings – and we’ve her dressed up as a sun at one point and, at another, playing a saw so that we could see the effect the sound waves have on a cylinder of burning butane.
Steve Mould is the science nerd – has actually been on Blue Peter and has that “experienced presenter” vibe. Mould feels like the anchor man, even though both Arney and Parker ooze charisma.
Matt Parker, the mathematician, has the twitter account @StandUpMaths and he lives up to the name. He’s especially good at the improv – and that’s ideal when the live show doesn’t go to plan.
One of my favourite scenes had Mould and Parker wiggling a length of orange tubing in order to demonstrate oscillations and musical harmony.
For the final act the trio are joined on stage by Robin Bailey for a song and fire performance that brings the sciences together. Except, well, except for the night I went – when they ran out of gas. An indication of the strength of the team and the quality of the performance was that they pushed on regardless using a zippo as a stand in flame.
It didn’t work. This video doesn’t have the best sound (in part due to McIntyre’s beatboxing) but at around the minute mark shows Mould and Parker accidently setting fire to their table cloth. Ah; the joys of the live show.
Despite the lack of butane for the finale and perhaps because of the unexpected fire – I thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Reviewed by Andrew Girdwood on , 2012.
A laugh out loud celebration of nerd humour and science. Highly recommended.
Festival of the Spoken Nerd is a hugely entertaining merger of comedy and science. A strong team of presenters, genuinely funny improv combines well with a carefully planned and secretly educational tour through dangerous and amusing facts. Well worth making the effort to see.
Rating: 4.5/5 Edinburgh Stars.