So the Edinburgh Fringe has finished for another year. I had the luck to spend a good few days there this year and I thought I’d review a couple of my favourite shows.
Tom Webb- MegaGames
I originally went to see Tom Webb in “London is Funny” on recommendation from a friend. I’m usually pretty sceptical about recommendations due to the fact that I don’t trust friends. But I was pleasantly surprised, and even though he was only compering the show, I fell in love with his comedy style and his friendly mickey-taking. So I decided to go along to his free-fringe show “MegaGames”. The concept of the show was simple- as we entered the room, every member of the audience received a raffle ticket and he made sure every member of the audience (who wanted to) got a go in one of the games that he had invented. The games where wacky and inventive to say the least, and Webb made the audience members feel at ease and he came across as being everyone’s friend. I usually like edgy and bitter comedians, but the grinning Webb made me want to smile all the way through the show. He is a naturally funny man who I am very sure we will see a lot more of in the near future. If you get the opportunity to see him at all, take it. You will come away from the show feeling lighter and happier and wanting to run away to a children’s playground to have a go on the roundabout.
Toby Hadoke- My Stepson Stole my Sonic Screwdriver
I wouldn’t describe Hadoke as a stand-up comedian. I would describe him as an extremely talented comedy story-teller. This show as a beautiful amalgamation of geeky anecdotes and touching family stories. You didn’t need to be a Doctor Who fan to appreciate this show, although I think it helped to be able to imagine yourself in his shoes. Hadoke had the audience in the palm of his hand from the start as he told us his stories. Some points of the show were so poignent, I was almost in tears; then suddenly he would turn it around with such a funny joke that my feelings felt torn. Such a beautiful show with such great content.
Here is my liveblog of the Oympic Opening Ceremony- I wasn’t expecting much, but boy was I proven wrong (as you can tell in my liveblog progression). I watched from the build up at 7pm.
19:00 The 1st minute of Olympic coverage and I hate it already. London is NOT the heart of our country- more like the anus.
19:02 I need to get my drink on
19:05 Huw Edwards: “What is the purpose of this opening ceremony?”. My thoughts exacty, Huw, my thoughts exactly.
19:13 Well, this is dull now Sherlock has gone
19:19 GIANT CANDYFLOSS!
19:21 I will be live-blogging pictures of my reactions to this ceremony. I predict lots of “disgust” “WTF” and “facepalm” #olympics
19:30 Now we go live to Edinburgh, where about 10 people are looking angry.
19:33 Chris Hoy’s jawline could take someone’s eye out. #olympics
19:54 I’d like to inform you all that I am watching this show about exercise while eating apple crumble and custard. #olympics
20:07 DISASTER. I am out of orange juice. Now I can’t drink Amaretto. Baileys it is!
20:13 I have decided it prudent for a hawaiian sarong and bikini to be my choice of attire to watch this ceremony. How British.
21:04 Just put down my custard. Bradley Wiggins. A bell. Interesting.
21:04 WELL THERE’S THE SCOTS, WELSH AND IRISH PISSED OFF #olympics #jerusalem
21:06 Oh, I see what they’re doing here. Hope they do a united song now, otherwise- way to separate the nations of the UK. #olympics
21:06 Did I mention how much I hate chidren singing?
21:07 Ken Branagh?! Is that you? #olympics
21:08 It’s like a blooming #shambles game #olympics @ShamblesImprov
21:10 Jesus, what have I been smoking? #olympics
21:11 I actually just laughed out loud at that dancing.
21:12 That man would make one hell of a Valjean. #olympics
21:15 I proper fancy Ken Branagh when he’s not in a top hat. This is just too much pleasure for me to handle. #olympics
21:19 I want an upside down barrel drum! And that giant trumpet thing! #oympics #music #annistooexcited
21:26 Oh now, Daniel Craig too? I hope he goes in the shower fully dressed. #justsaying #olympics
21:27 The ACTUAL queen?! Whoa now. I must’ve accidentally laced my baileys with LSD. #olympics #pleasedontgointheshowerwithher
21:30 DANNY BOYLE YOU ARE MAKING EVERY ONE OF MY EMOTIONS EXPLODE. THIS IS AWESOME. #olympics
21:33 All I heard there was “blah blah blah blah blah CHAOS”. Which is fine. #olympics
21:35 Tubular Bells. YES. Let’s hope one of those kids can spin their head right round #oympics #exorcist
21:36 This never happened in the exorcist #olympics
21:40 Peter Pan. My favourite. #oympics #annpan
21:49 Seriously, I can’t cope with this. Rowan Atkinson. Chariots of Fire. It’s like Danny Boyle knows me so well. THIS is Britain. #olympics
21:50 ST ANDREWS, I LOVE YOU!!!! #olympics
21:52 Is that..? I believe it is.. That’s my academic great grandson @philipgoose running with Atkinson!
21:55 This pretty much sums up my reactions… http://twitpic.com/acfw3s
21:58 bloody youths. TURN THAT MUSIC DOWN!! #olympics
21:59 Sorry guys, just noticed something. I haven’t seen one ginger yet. Discrimination!
22:00 JETPACK? WTF. Mind = Blown.
22:01 TARDIS noise…
22:05 Well, I was enjoying it up until now. #dizzyrascal #olympics
22:11 The Doctor has to appear in this somewhere. The longer it is before we see him, the more chance he will be lighting the flame.
22:24 Ah, now we have to sit through what this whole thing is about. Sports people. Booooring. I want more jet packs! #olympics
22:40 Aw, I want the Cook Islands to win.
22:49 Wooo, Denmark are like, my fourth favourite country! #olympics
22:53 So, I’m putting the kettle on. Anyone want a cup of tea and pink wafer biscuit while we’re waiting for Doctor Who to light the flame?
22:55 Or we could play a drinking game. Every time you see a person, drink a shot of tequila. #olympics
23:05 Guys, because none of you took me up on my offer of pink wafers, I ate them all myself and now I have pink crumbs everywhere. DAMN YOU.
23:55 Moths? MOTHS! RUN AWAY, TEAM GB!
23:58 Ugh. Team GB appear to be dressed as Chavs, and some are acting like it too. #olympics
00:03 Ok, couldn’t we have had a better band play? Bit of an anti-climax. #olympics
00:06 ET? You’ve come back!! #olympics
00:12 Ha! “Your magistyseses” #olympics
00:15 Wait, we were responsible for introducing P.E to schools? Nooooooo!
00:24 I love brass. #olympics
00:25 It better be Doctor Who, it’s the only reason I watched this. #olympics
00:30 This guy isn’t Doctor Who either. #olympics
00:35 NOW’S YOUR CHANCE, DOCTOR, RUN IN NOW!
00:37 That’s some great engineering right there. Just goes to show: science> sports.
00:41 In comes Macca, spoils the whole mood. Bring back George Harrison (from the dead, obv, there have been too few zombies in this) #olympics
00:42 You know who would’ve been better? Brian May. #olympics
00:44 Is anyone else scared that Macca might die in a minute? #olympics
00:47 HANG ON. Where the heck are the zombies? #olympics
00:52 Well. That was lovely. Goodnight all.
00:53 I miss Ken Branagh.
This is a piece of unfinished music I wrote to tell a story. It’s quite nice. Just need to get round to finishing it now…
“It can’t be done!”, “Are you insane?!”, “Drink plenty of fluids!” are just a number of the statements that were shouted at me when I told people that I’d be partaking in 24 constant hours of comedy, courtesy of the University of York Comedysoc (@comedysoc). Did I listen? No! (Well, I did drink plenty of fluids, but we’ll come to that later.) Thursday the 21st June 2012 is a date that will go down in history.
7-8pm It started quite routinely with The Shambles, comedysoc’s improvisational comedy troupe. The Shambles never fail to disappoint, although this hour long show was slightly under their usual par. Perhaps they were saving themselves for the 23 more hours to come. Never-the-less, it was still enjoyable. Things that involve colonic irrigation and angel delight are always worth watching, right?
8-9pm The next hour was filled with Grad Booty, (normally Got Booty, but full of graduating members of the society (minus me. Boo)). This is a panel show based around escaping from a desert island using “booty” gained from winning rounds. In the past, I have not enjoyed this show as much as the other comedysoc out-goings, but this one surpassed my expectations! Not the usual presenter of the show, Henry Ward is an enigmatic host and his melancholy musings about his break-up from his girlfriend (from what I hear, all based on the truth) caught my attention. The panelists were joyfully tipsy and it was just a nice and frivolous hour that I enjoyed immensely.
9-10pm Next up were the Stand Ups. The standard of comedysoc’s stand up comedians has just got better and better throughout the year. The highlights of the stand up acts this time round for me were Lewis Dunn talking to past Lewis Dunn on the big screen, and Manraj Bahra’s audience participation of a joke that he has done a couple of times and the audience never fail to love, even if they can recite it with him.
10-11pm Just a Minute filled the next hour. This was one of my highlights of the 24 hours as I am a big fan of the show on radio4. Hosted excellently by outgoing chair Ian Angell, the contestants had to fill a minute talking about a given subject without hesitation, repetition or deviation. Mungo Tatton-Brown was masterful at this, but it was good to see the usually behind-the-scenes Shaun McCreery get some stage time. He was definitely a winner with the audience!
11-12pm The next show up was Room 045, lovingly ripped off from the BBC show Room 101, in which various members of comedysoc interviewed other members to see what their pet hates are and if they were willing to throw them into the vaults of room 405 (the room which hosts all of comedysoc’s shows). Although a good idea in principle, I don’t think the format worked very well and I noticed the audience getting quite restless at this point. Perhaps it was due to the amount of alcohol consumed, but I think something a bit more lively would have gone down better at this point in proceedings.
12-2am Then followed two hours of open mic, which I was expecting to be sparsely filled and that I would have to fill in some time, but it was surprisingly full and they only just fit everyone who wanted to perform in. I was a little bit disappointed by some of the acts not being in any way funny (and by this, I don’t mean dying on stage because there were a good number, including myself, that did that, but I mean just singing glorified karaoke..), but the majority of the acts were great to watch and very very amusing- highlights being the Kate Bush dancing by Louise Jones and Ed Greenwood, and the Pokemon song by Ian Angell and Cieran Douglass. I was however slightly tipsy by this point and decided that it would be a good idea to pen a song that night and try to play it with my very limited guitar-playing skills. Opening with a tale about a dead-squirrel is never a good idea.
2am-4am Open Improv followed. This is the time when anyone can come along and try their hand at improvisation games. It is ALWAYS fun and there’s always something for everyone to try. I adore the workshops when I’m sober, so when drunk it was a riot! By this time (and by this level of drunkenness), I had made friends with everyone left in the room and was probably making rude jokes. All I know was that it was one of my favourite parts of the whole 24 hours.
4am-5:30 Shambles After Dark which can never be spoken of again. (Be assured that it was VERY funny, if a little disturbing). That is all I can say on the matter.
5:30am-6am There then followed some more impromptu open improv to fill in the half an hour before 6am, and mainly due to my enthusiasm to do more improv. I could count the amount of people in the room on one hand, but I think we all bonded over lack of sleep and growing insanity.
6am- 7am This hour was dedicated to Stand up Set Swap, which involved pairs of stand up comedians swapping sets and performing them in the style of the other in the pair. I am sad to admit that this hour was the start of my deterioration into involuntary sleep, so I only remember the first person to do this, but David Spriggs definitely caught the essence of William Feaver. Unless I was dreaming of course…
7-9am saw the Sketch Show in an Hour then Stand up with an idea, but alas again, I have to admit that I just could not keep my eyes open, so have no recollection of these activities.
9-10am was an hour of News Dub, which involved Ian Angell, Odinn Hilmarsson and Giles/Josh (I don’t really know) watching News24 on mute and dubbing over the voices. This proved to be hilarious to the slighty hysterical and sleep deprived me for at least half an hour, before I fell asleep again.
10-11am Then followed the very brilliant Comic Plays, in which I was lucky to have parts. The first was Star Trek Compromised, a Star Trek parody by Sam Went. There was a sight problem at the beginning where one of the cast failed to turn up, but Louise Jones bravely filled in. This play was just brilliantly funny and so full of geeky in jokes. I enjoyed playing G’Pok, the vulcan character immensely and it allowed me to vent my (not very) inner geek.
The second of the comic plays was The Wizards of Winterberry by Mungo Tatton-Brown. A very very whimsical and beautiful play that I loved being a part of. I even got to play a character that wasn’t “old crone” or “comic relief” and really enjoyed playing the innocent and lovely 2K12, fawning after the afore mentioned Josh/Giles’s dastardly character of Lord Trigue.
11-12am Next was Long Form Improv. I blame the dulcet tones of the actors because it sounded great while my eyelids grew heavier and heavier.
12-1pm HIGNFY from the past followed. I have no recollection of this because somebody took pity on me and gave me a pillow. That was a huge mistake as it meant I became very comfortable and slept soundly for the entire hour.
1-2pm The Sketch Show was next, and I was in this too. The sketches are penned by a number of student comedians (including myself) are vary from observational humour to the surreal. Unfortunately, I think most of the audience were pretty sleepy by this time and they didn’t go down as well as they should have. A particular favourite of mine was the Octobeast sketch. I’ll leave you to imagine what that was about.
2-3pm Comic Short Stories followed the sketch show, where some comic stories were told to the delight of the once more growing audience. This was possibly my least favourite part of the show, only due to the fact that the longest part of it was about cats. And I don’t like cats.
3-4pm The Improv Fight involved members of comedysoc and members of pantsoc pitted against each other to see who would come out on top in an improvisation fight. Although this was an amusing watch and good filler, it was not something that stood out to me. Also pantsoc won which was an outrage!
4-5pm QI followed. Hosted by George Hughes, who couldn’t have been further from Stephen Fry if he was tossed by a large Scotsman, yet he somehow worked as host, keeping the conversations sharp, concise and entertaining. The real star of this show however was Cieran Douglass once more, showing his impressive knowledge of, well, everything.
5-6pm Panel Show Palooza followed, hosted by the hilarious Henry Ward and dynamic Dan Wood and including the amazing Ann Griggs on one of the panels (that’s me, in case you can’t read my website name). I thoroughly enjoyed this show when it was put on earier in the year, but it is definitely one of the shows that needs more than an hour to do it justice. Unfortunately, QI over-ran somewhat, so some of the planned games had to be cut out. Henry and Dan proved to be a very eccentric and amusing double act (think a better looking Vic and Bob) and were the stars of the show. I like to think I held my own though, after having two cups of coffee in quick succession.
6-7pm To finish off, there was Shambles Assemble. Unfortunately, I had a ball to go to so had to leave straight after Panel Show Palooza and didn’t get to experience Shambles Assemble, although I hear it involved all of the Shambles and was a very very good ending to a very very very good 24 hours.
I don’t think that I will ever experience another 24 hours like this one ever again. I’m so glad that I stayed for the whole thing, even if I did lose a few hours due to the need to sleep. Congratulations to all involved. It was an extremely enjoyable day and the people in it are very talented individuals indeed. I look forward to seeing ALL of their rises to fame. I only hope they remember me when they’re at the top ;-)
(Videos to follow)
It is student election time at my new university. I thought that I would never get involved in elections again, after going out with a (literal) bang in my final year of undergraduate. For those of you who don’t know (and god knows why you wouldn’t, I talk about it enough), I ran a Dalek for president of the students’ association. And it very nearly won. Which was awesome.
NEVER THE LESS. I am not talking about that time. That time is gone, never to be recaptured (unfortunately). I am talking about NOW. And how I accidentally became involved with elections again. This time round, it’s kind of a joke candidate again. A satirical candidate, one might say. He has videos and everything.
It all started one evening when I was slightly inebriated, as most good events often do. I had heard on the grapevine that Tom Taylor was thinking of running for president. He is a (quite talented) stand up comedian that I know from Comedysoc, and I suddenly got a pang of longing to once more become involved in hack goings on. So naturally I volunteered my joke candidate experience and services.
They call hecklings hustings here. That’s weird.
So here I am, sitting awkwardly in the corner of the results party (which is where you’ll usually find me at a party), blogging about how I’m apparently addicted to student politics, rather than actually enjoying the party. There’s a DJ and everything. But still, I miss the Salad Bowl, with the twenty people at most playing cards and waiting for the manual count. And getting pangs of jealousy when the counters got free pizza, and all I got was a popped Dalek and a chance to rant on live radio. Bastards.
For my teacher training course, I’ve been demonstrating various “light” practicals to the non-physics specialists (seen as I did my dissertation on lasers and stuff - I believe that’s the technical term). I created a very large version of a pinhole camera, along with a demonstration of the eye by shining light through a round bottomed flask full of a fluorescent liquid called fluoroscein. This liquid glows when light hits it, so if you shine light into it you can see the beams going through it.
Now, our eyes have a lens at the front that makes all of the light converge (or bend so that they come together at a point). If the eye is healthy (with 20:20 vision), this “convergence point” is on the back of the eye (or the retina), but if you are short/long sighted, the point is before/after the retina. So, obviously, glasses are required to correct the convergence point. If you place another lens infront of this already existing lens, you can change this convergence point- and that’s how glasses work. One type of lens will bring it forward, and one will push it back.
Now, this got me to thinking- how do contact lenses work? They clearly look nothing like normal glass lenses that we use in a lab or classroom environment. But they work in just the same way! They are miniature versions of those lenses. Some of thicker on the outside and thinner on the inside, and some the other way around, depending on your vision defect. And they come in different prescriptions to show how much they bend the light.
I find the fact that such every day objects are really very complicated and intricate amazing, and that’s why I love science!
I have recently moved to York to complete a PGCE course in Science- specifically physics. “What has that got to do with your title?” I hear you ask. Well, I shall reveal all…. now. I have decided to join the university’s comedy society.
Way back in 2006, I formed the University of St Andrews Comedysoc(k) and it was by far the best thing that I did at university…well, maybe second to actually getting a degree. It was incredibly successful and I met so many superb people through it. So obviously, I had worries that the University of York Comedy Soc wouldn’t live up to my expectations of quality of both the performance and the activities/people involved. Thankfully, my doubts have turned out to be completely unfounded and they are a great bunch of comedy performers. Only trouble is, I was never the best improv performer in my society (yes, it was mine, MY OWN. MY PRECIOUS), I tended to chair the improv rather than play most of the games; and compared to York’s professional standard improvisers I’ve got my work cut out to keep up.
My favourite part of it so far has to be the comedy writing. I have so missed writing comedy with others so it’s been a fabulous experience and no doubt will continue to be so. Let’s just hope that I can manage it along with the course requirements… At least there will be no prop building whilst I’m writing a dissertation like last time….or will there?!
.. is, to me, the most arrogant question in the history of asking stupid questions.
Saying “Aliens”- ie extra-terrestrial beings - do not exist would basically be admitting that Earth is the only populated planet in such a vast universe. And the odds of that are nearing impossible. Of course, we all know that nothing is impossible and nothing has zero chance of happening, but the likelihood of aliens existing has a magnitude far far far greater than them not existing. If Earth can harbour and grow such a variety of life, then there is no doubt in my mind that other planets can do the same. No planets have been found with the same conditions as Earth, but does this matter? Surely if humans can evolve to live in our conditions, and deep sea creatures can evolve to live with requirements completely different to our own, then surely life can develop in a variety of circumstances.
And even if aliens do require similar conditions, there are plenty of planets out there that we simply have yet to find in the vast outreaches of our universe, or even universes beyond.