It sounds like the start of a bad joke. “A librarian, an archaeologist and a curator walk onto a stage…”. Last night at Bloomsbury Theatre just such an academic ensemble entertained a capacity audience for over two hours with a mix of comedy, music, references to nietzsche, saucy double bass and nob jokes.
This was Bright Club, an evening of light entertainment with a difference. It’s designed to give UCL’s researchers, academics and other staff a novel means to tell the world about the work they do. Basically, they’re put on a stage in front of hundreds of people and asked to talk about a theme related to their job (last night: ‘hidden treasure’) with as many gags as possible. Most are complete novices at this kind of thing – though you couldn’t tell.
It works brilliantly. Academics, as a rule, have a wealth of annecdotes and unusual experiences to impart, but don’t normally get a receptive audience. We learnt how Picasso invoked the fourth dimension in order to get laid, why a UCL archaeologist likens popular TV shows Time Team and Bonekickers to a ‘satchel of penises’ and why the British Museum should be renamed ‘The Museum of stuff we won in foreign wars’.
Musical interludes came from the delicious Strawberry and Cream, a duo of operatic double-bass players with suitably coloured hair, while ‘professional comedians’ Robin Ince, Steve Hall and compere Simon Munnery made sure the pace never dropped.
I’d highly recommend getting a ticket for the next show, which I think will be in February.