Friday, 31 January 2014

Nerd vision

Last night saw me at Swindon's Art Centre for a performance by Festival of the Spoken Nerd in their Full Frontal Nerdity tour. I mean, I was told there would be entertaining spreadsheets: how could I resist?

It was great to see an audience of 150 or so really getting into maths and science with an edge - and no doubt the nerds could tell you the edge's exact angle. The trio of Matt Parker, Helen Arney and Steve Mould work well together in a combination of science demos, wryly humorous scientific songs, banter and what was alleged to be maths, although it turned out to be primarily technology, fluid dynamics (physics) and computer science. But there were truly amazing spreadsheets!

Probably most impressive was the physics demos (I would say that) from the amazing electrified pickle to the revelation of the non-existent colour, but the whole was supported by well-scripted chat from all three. Even old chestnuts like breaking a glass with an amplified voice (achieved despite the technology coming over all prima donna) and Conway's Game of Life came alive with the FOTSN touch.

All three proved entertaining performers with a great balance of laughs (often reliant on a little geeky knowledge) and genuine enthusiasm for science. They kept the audience with them all the way and spread the word for nerddom.

I was surprised by the range of the audience - I expected mostly twenty-somethings, and they were certainly well represented and the noisiest, but there were plenty of oldies there too. No children, which is worth emphasising as a recommendation, both because there's what you might primly call 'inappropriate language' and because health and safety is gloriously and explicitly abandoned at the beginning of the gig - and there are couple of things here you definitely don't want kids trying at home.

For the rest of us, though, a great night - and there are plenty of opportunities to see them around the UK through to April. Take a look at the website for venues and bookings, but hurry, as some have sold out already.

[Added later]

If you are curious about the nature of nerds in action, see the video below (not the same show).

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