Is it research? Is it jokes? No… it’s Bright Club!

1 Nov

So it’s well past my bedtime, and I’m sitting at my kitchen table with a furrowed brow and a kettle on the go. It’s almost as though I’m working on my Ph.D.

Of course, dear readers, you know that couldn’t possibly be the case. What I’m doing here – with my sharpened pencil and my pad of yellow paper* – is writing a set for tomorrow night’s Bright Club.

To loosely paraphrase Saint Teresa of Avila, ‘What in buggery is Bright Club?’ Well, very simply, it’s a kind of comedy club where your comedians are researchers. Tomorrow night, a bunch of us from various Cambridge colleges and departments will stand up in front of a (distinguished, tasteful, attractive) audience and talk about our research for seven minutes or so. It’s kind of like an academic seminar, but with far more jokes and (hopefully) plenty of swearing.

It sounds like it could be dreadful, but more often than not it ends up hilarious.

Tomorrow night, I’ll be talking about the Grand Tour – a period of European travel among rich young men which became a kind of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century gap year – and how difficult it gets when you’re trying to write history but the people you’re researching turn out to be colossal bellends. Joining me will be all sorts of awesome people talking about the funniest, nerdy stuff there is, including the frankly hilarious Harry Cliff, the ‘pet particle physicist’ of the Science Museum, who absolutely killed it last time out. I’m excited already.

Since starting to do Bright Club, I’ve seen liquid nitrogen ice-cream made on stage. I’ve seen an optometrist wielding an accordion. I’ve seen a man put the LOL in Large Hadron Collider. (It’s in there. Keep looking.) Come join us tomorrow night and you never know what you might hear.

The gig starts at 7.30pm tomorrow evening in Cambridge’s Portland Arms. You can get tickets here. And in case it sways you, there’s a chipper opposite the venue that sells battered sausages and Bass shandy. Hope to see you there.



*Studies have shown (except they haven’t) that yellow paper makes you at least 400% smarter.


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