The Scibar team went along to what is described as “a comedy night with a difference” at the Jericho Tavern on the 1st October. The difference being that the performers onstage are full-time scientists or academics of some type or another….yes that’s right, boffins trying to be funny. Bright Club, as it’s known, has been running since 2009 in London and since November 2013 in Oxford. It now also runs in other cities like Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow among others. Those performing go through rigorous ninja comedy training prior to going on stage; there are 10 Bright Club commandments and number 3 states that “Everyone has to be funny”. It’s simply not enough to get up on stage and being congratulated for having the guts to do it…you must make the audience laugh. So fear not, if you are expecting cringe-worthy puns and science in-jokes, then you will be very pleasantly surprised. Both times I have been to the show I have laughed heartily throughout. Being a scientist myself i don't think made a difference as I think anyone would have enjoyed the shows.
This year it has run three sold out shows in Oxford so can be considered something of a success. The night follows a set format: there are two halves each with two researchers/academics performing and the whole evening is top and tailed with two real life working comedians one of which is the MC for the night. On this particular night the MC was the founder of Bright Club himself Steve Cross, self-proclaimed as one of the top science-based comedians working in the UK today (!). He introduced his Twitter alter ego @tehnakedmolerat whose sole purpose is to right the many occasions its name is taken in vain.
First up on stage was Sally Le Page a PhD student who regaled us of her dating woes and spending hours waiting for fruitflies to have sex and that even the smooth tones of Barry White couldn't get them in the mood. Next up was neuroscientist James Cooke, who threatened to read us the first chapter of his PhD thesis only to then very funnily explain the variation in how we perceive sound on a sort of scale from bad to good...or Hitler to Attenborough. In the second half we had Becky Smethurst combining astrophysics and the ukulele and Debbie Cameron the keeper of the English language a.k.a Professor of Language and Communication. She told us of the great tuba wars where on one side there were those who wished for her to proclaim on those who play the tuba to be called 'tubists' and on the other those who wished for 'tubaists'. Naturally, her conclusion was that both were ridiculous. To end the evening we had Edinburgh and UK comedy circuit regular Stephen Carlin with his very dry, very funny and very Scottish take on life.
So all in all a really good night out and for a fiver a great bargain. The next show is in early December and I would recommend booking early as it sells out. I for one intend to go to the next one. Keep and eye on their blog for updates and lineups. If you are a scientist or researcher then you too can get your 8 minutes of fame!