Robin Ince is just the most amazing comedian and curator. His latest collection, presented as a School For Gifted Children show at the Bloomsbury Theatre in London had a delicious science theme.
WARNING – this article contains some swearing.
The show took place the following evening after the General election with a sense of manic desperation and excitement in the air. Desperation for more sleep and excitement for the people who were listed on the bill. People thought they were about to see Brian Cox, Marcus Brigstocke, Gavin Osborn, Adam Rutherford, Andrew Collins and Martin White.
Plus more to follow was also listed – whoever could that be referring to?
First to appear was Martin White, who describes himself as an orchestra-leader and animator, specialising in creating entertainment that is inefficiently time-consuming to produce.
Suggesting that any tune can become catchy & tuneful if repeated enough times, with the help of the audience a song entitled ‘Napalm Death’ was composed. Martin used his special system and random audience members to generate the musical notes and lyrics. Martin played the piano while Gavin Osborn accompanied him on guitar. The audience attempted to follow his instructions and sing the song, but had some problems due to laughing too much.
Andrew Collins then appeared on stage. He describes himself as a media hyphenate, the prudish, woolly liberal half of Collings & Herrin, and Collins & Herring.
As an excellent broadcaster, the majority of his repertoire consists of radio shows and podcasts, but has recently started to use these skills for stand-up comedy and deal with immediate responses to his material. Hopefully, one day he will achieve the bird themed aims he set out in his slot – good luck to you Mr Collins!
Next on stage was a self-confessed Susan Boyle look-alike, Susan Vale. Simply describing herself as a ‘comedy lady’, Susan started her set with very very funny rapid-fire jokes, but refrained from the nob gags – graciously offering them to Brian Cox. She then proceeded to show the audience her Fall music collection. After getting the audience to select a CD from the stack, Susan would base her material on this. It’s a shame that Susan had chosen to do School For Gifted Children as The Fall were playing at the Shepard’s Bush Empire in London on the very same night!
As this point in the show, the science theme began to materialise. Professor Brian Cox set consisted of talking about the lack of government funding in scientific research, the American astrophysicist Carl Sagan, explained how it is possible to know the age of the universe and the silliness of astrology. As a biological scientific research associate myself, I greatly appreciate other scientists who have a wonderful ability to communicate with everybody and anybody in an accessible manner. Thank you Prof. Cox for popularising the work that you do! He finished his set by suggesting that some people should fuck off. Maybe he was making a reference to this video from Rebel Virals?
As the British Chiropractic Association has recently dropped a libel case against him, Simon started by talking about libel reform and showing a number of pictures from his campaign trail. He pointed out that a large number of his photos featured the Liberal Democrat’s science spokesman Dr Evan Harris who happened to be in the audience. At this point, Simon brought another science writer Ben Goldacre out on stage.
There then followed a lovefest about Evan, with Evan eventually identifying himself and the audience gave him a standing ovation. He had lost his seat as an MP in Oxford West and Abingdon to a Christian fundamentalist Conservative by only 176 votes that very morning in the General Election.
A set by Adam Rutherford, an editor at the science journal Nature then followed. His Bio’ simply states ‘Back off man, I’m a scientist.’ Adam talked about evolution, genetics and displayed some rather scary pictures of nethanderthals.
Gavin Osborn then came back on stage to do his own complete set singing to everyone about the first time he saw Professor Brian Cox in high definition!!
A tired but enthusiastic Marcus Brigstocke followed. His set included a hilarious thought provoking joke involving magic eye pictures.
At this point the giggling nerdy audience were full and very satisfied with their dose and display of professional nerds. That was the end of the show wasn’t it? – Err, well no. Robin appeared again and said that he would like to finish the show with a song. Maybe Gavin was going to come back on stage? Instead he introduced Tim Minchin!!!! What a fantastic treat!!
Tim Minchin studiously prepared for his set by wrecking the stage – toppling the mic over and pulling bits off the piano. He expressed his joy at discovering that he didn’t have to put any eye make-up on, and that just wearing think black glasses was far easier. It was truly amazing the way that Tim can play fantastically complicated tunes with one hand, while facing towards and gesturing at the audience with the other while chatting or singing. His set included this song (animated by Fraser Davidson), for which he thanked YouTube for its popularity;
As Tim finished his set, Robin came back on stage and suggested that Tim put the mic back up. Tim picked the mic and stand up carrying it over to Robin, but then just dropped it on the floor – running away from Robin and off the stage.
So that was another grand edition of School For Gifted Children. It was fantastic enough already with the scheduled guests, but the appearances by Ben Goldacre & Tim Minchin made it the best show that has ever existed!! But don’t worry, there’s another School For Gifted Children style show very soon. What are you doing on Thursday 24th June?
To view a beautifully illustrated and written review of the evening, take a look at Amelia’s Magazine