Girls are forward in Guildford. At least by proxy. As part of my gig for the British Science Festival I conducted an ‘experiment’ to judge how mirthful the town was – in short, a caption competition, on which I had left a box, underneath the place to put a caption, saying ‘anything else you want to tell us?’ Someone wrote ‘No’ which seemed rather redundant, one criticised a part of my set (possibly the only time I’ve been heckled in writing) but another wrote “My friend Fabia thinks you’re cute,” provided a phone number, and continued, “she’s not concerned about your financial status, has firm boobs and will wear socks.” Now, just to be clear the last three points weren’t just randomly volunteered (that would have plain scary) but referred to some of the gags I’d done earlier in the evening. Anyway I thought it only fair to phone said number from stage… and between us, the crowd and I left a rather awkward message. Still, it’s an interesting technique for picking up potential dates. Turns out Fabia is a budding (award winning) playwright and children’s authoress. Her mate Les won the caption competition. The picture was this…
Les wrote, “Michelle, they can see your public hare”.
The gig was fun if a little nerve wracking. It’s been a while since I’ve done any stand-up and I was, well, rusty. The timing was a little off, and I missed a few builds (gags on top of another). Still, it was nice do something live again – and when I’ve finished the book I should really write a stand-up show based on it and get back out again. In fact I’m toying with the idea of doing a few gigs in the US if I can find some amenable clubs. The crew from Greg Atkins TV were there again, filming every success and failure. It’ll be interesting to watch. (We’d spent the afternoon filming my introduction to the series – essentially a very short version of what you’ll find under ‘About the optimist on tour’ link above). Tom, the cameraman did his fabulous Gollum on cue and I did a questionabe ‘Lord of the Ring’ gag about a Gollum/ Yoda love-in. Andrew O’Neill and Robin Ince were, as ever, brilliant. If you haven’t seen either, do so immediately. I particularly endorse Robin’s battle against creationists, and Andrew’s subversive and hilarious battle against racism…
Andrew O’Neill battles racism:
Robin Ince battles science denial:
I also did my first live TV interview with BBC South to promote the gig, and have a new found appreciation for the talents of anyone that can present live as a result. In the media-frenzy that is my life I was also asked to be the guest editor on the science festival’s blog site – and put in a piece to The Telegraph for Tuesday’s science page. To think my first piece in a British national is in the Telegraph! My mum would be pleased, and the exposure can’t hurt…. But I think I need to go and sing ‘the red flag’ a few times.
Right, off to the airport. I still can’t quite believe I meeting Cynthia Breazeal (sociable robots), Bill Mitchell (smart cities), George Church (Genetics), Rick Hess (solar power), Juan Enriquez (see post below ‘At one with Juan?’), Wally Broecker and Klaus Lackner (again, see post below ‘Cynicism and Climate Change’), finishing off with Hod Lipson (robots again). Also looking forward to meeting my American publisher Rachel Holtzman at Penguin and my good chum Colin, a neuroscientist in NY.
My mind may be totally fried upon my return… Right off to Heathrow… While I’m flying, why not sign the ‘pardon for Alan Turing’ petition? I think it’s important.