Fans of Ricky Gervais will no doubt have heard of Robin Ince. Despite being one of Gervais’ best mates though and supporting him on all his tours to date, Robin Ince is a very different breed of comedian. Ince swaps Gervais’ edgy, sometimes offensive style of comedy for a far more satirical act, paying close attention to ‘having a go at the Daily Mail’, which is something I very much enjoy.
In his new show, however, Ince is tackling science. I turned up at Komedia expecting to see a straightforward stand up act. Instead I was provided with a far more eclectic evening. Whilst Ince did indulge the audience with his usual ‘nice guy’ comedy, he also introduced a line up of guests, all with their own fifteen minute act. First we were treated to the music of Gavin Osborn, who sang a number of charming songs all about the benefits of science. We were also given a sideways glimpse into Darwin’s personal life through the eyes of up and coming female comedian Josie Long. Whilst those two certainly entertained, quite frankly neither were as exciting as Ince himself.
The real treat of the evening, though, came when physicist gave the audience an explanation of the big bang theory using a gherkin. How? Well he electrocuted it. This apparently was a demonstration of how by using the light given off by a distant object, one can tell whether it is moving towards them or away from them. Later in the show Richard Wiseman demonstrated the power of the mind and the illusions that it can create with a series of psychological tricks. He even allowed the audience a glimpse in to how someone like Derren Brown operates. Both of these acts were the stand out highlights of the evening.
There were moments when proceedings became a little strange. A couple of middle aged women played a strange musical instrument called a theremin and sang a song about Laika, the first dog in space, however this entertained nonetheless.
My only concern was that people may have paid their money and turned up expecting a straightforward stand up gig, such as the drunken group in front of me who were ejected half way through. Then again maybe they should have done their research before they arrived, as I should have done.
Nevertheless it was a very enjoyable evening, a sort of Royal Variety performance with brains and an agenda to promote the sciences. I see that the Guardian’s ‘Bad Science’ columnist, Ben Goldacre, will be making appearances on later tour dates; something which will be worth a glance. You will learn a lot, and laugh at the same time. Bargain!