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University researchers doing stand-up comedy: is this a good idea?

If Tuesday night’s Bright Club at City Cafe is any indication, then academics are in fact some of the funniest people around. Racking up sold out performances since its debut in July, the Edinburgh Bright Club is the hottest ticket in town these days. It was back this week for another sold-out event with a fresh batch of newly minted comedians hoping we’d all share a laugh at their life’s work.

Energetic compère Susan Morrisson set the mood with a very sparkly jacket and a few raunchy jokes, and then self-proclaimed costume drama apologist Sarah Artt was up, coming clean about her deep and unhealthy obsession with Jane Austen. Karon McBride assured us that the University of Edinburgh’s physics department is not taking groups of students, smashing them together and examining the debris, and Chris Speed wowed us with some of the latest developments along the information superhighway.

EUSci’s own Gemma Sharp was a hit describing her frustrations in growing uterus cells that she likened to a crappy tamagotchi; translatologist Charlotte Bosseaux put forward the rather dubious proposition that the world might be a better place if everyone were translated into French; and finally evolutionary biologist Fiona Lethbridge clearly enjoys the hours she spends with promiscuous beetles (Beatles?), finishing up her act with her guitar and very catchy song, “We all live in a land of spunk and beans. ” Speaking of music, we also enjoyed the stylings of Eleanor Morton on ukulele, whose song, “Slightly awkward social situation,” surely struck a chord with more than a few audience members.

More than just a great night out, Bright Club is also innovative public engagement. As co-organiser Andy MacLeod said: “Sometimes the best way to engage people is to go where they are, rather than expect them to come to you. In this case, it happens to be a comedy club.” Coming soon to Glasgow, Bright Club has been spreading across the UK since it began two years ago in London and it is still gaining momentum. It’s easy to see why. The performers are brave, they are experts in fields you might not know exist, and they make you laugh.

Do you want to try saying funny things for around eight minutes? The organisers are recruiting now for their October event. For more information, like them on Facebook  or check out the Bright Club blog.

Catie Lichten


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