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SciComm-edy! Science and comedy at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival

Written by Jacqui on April 18th, 2018.      0 comments

This is the first time I've considered going to the comedy festival since I moved to Australia. Flicking through the booklet, a couple of pictures and blurbs caught my eye amongst hundreds of performances on offer.

"Science communicators doing comedy?! This sounds awesome!" 

It did not take very much convincing for my fellow teammate Peter to jump on this SciComm-edy bandwagon (In fact he had coined the term). I went ahead and booked us tickets for a what I thought would be a Sunday afternoon full of nerdy jokes.

Peter Jacqui from Fizzics at the comedy festival orange lamp red background
Waiting for the show to start!

I've previously been involved in a science stage show, but had never seen a science comedy act before. Peter, with a theatre background, was particularly interested to see what the shows were like. We were both really curious and excited to see science communication and the performing arts come together. Here are short reviews of the two performances that we attended:
Sean Elliot: The Onion of Knowledge
Sean Elliot holding half a red onion
Source: Official Melbourne International Comedy Festival website

The show was family-friendly. This feeling was further enhanced by the presence of Sean's son, who helped out at the show and partook in some father-son bantering. There were impromptu and interactive elements to the show, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Without giving too much away, it was everything the blurb had promised and more: amazing storytelling about science history, totally relatable anecdotes for both educators and parents, and "recreational maths"! Sean has a great way of telling a story that show his passion for science, as well as being engaging and educational. I definitely walked out feeling like I've learnt a few things!

Sean, like many of us at Fizzics, is no stranger to presenting science shows and workshops to kids. He is also a producer on the children's science TV show Scope. To find out more about Sean and what he's up to, check out his Twitter @seanmelliot!

The final performances of The Onion of Knowledge are on this weekend, 21 and 22 April, don't miss out!
Chris Lassig: Dr. Chris's Theory of Everything
Chris lassig hand on chin with black marker scribbles of text cats numbers arrows on white background
Source: Official Melbourne International Comedy Festival website

So. Many. Puns. And I loved it! Academic turned science comedian, Chris told many stories that resonated with anyone who has ever been in or dealt with science academia. Armed only with a whiteboard and a marker, he brings a shameless self-awareness to his skits with plenty of pop-culture references. While you're laughing, he has covered complex ideas such as string theory and quantum mechanics.

We saw his last show at the festival so if this sounds like your cup of tea, look out for his shows in the future or keep up with what he's up to on Twitter @Astrocave! Chris also hosts the Lost in Science podcast on 3CR community radio, why not give it a listen?
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Happy teaching,


Jacqui from Fizzics
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