Bright Club

Hardly any time to breathe today, never mind post anything. Lectures, and exercise class and a meeting of the lost souls attempting to figure out what we should do to prefer for the Research Excellence Framework.

Now all that’s over I’m going to think about what I should do on stage this evening as I participate in the Second Bright Club Wales, at the Buffalo Bar in Cardiff City Centre. Apparently, this event “blends comedy, science, music and anything else that can happen on stage” which certainly leaves a lot to the imagination.

This evening is part of National Science and Engineering Week. In fact, there’s another event this evening in Cardiff tonight relating to this, comprising a public lecture at the School of Physics & Astronomy followed by an open evening allowing members of the public to use our telescopes. The weather has been lovely today, but clouds are starting to appear. I hope there’s enough clear sky to make it worthwhile.

I’m actually quite nervous about this Bright Club lark,  as I’m not at all sure what to expect, but apparently I’ll be on fairly early in the evening so with a bit of luck the room won’t be too rowdy and I might not get pelted with rotten tomatoes. I don’t really know to what extent I’m expected to play it for laughs either. I sometimes try to tell jokes in lectures, but they usually go down like  lead balloons, so perhaps I’ll just stick to some science and leave the funny stuff to the professional comedians. I’ve only got 8 minutes, but that’s plenty of time to make a fool of myself.

Between you and me, I have actually tried doing stand-up comedy once or twice. In fact, the most terrifying experience of my life was doing an open-mike spot at a Comedy Club in Cambridge Heath Road, when I lived in Bethnal Green. It’s one thing to try to be amusing in a pub or around the dinner table with friends, but quite another when you’re trying to make complete strangers laugh, especially when they’ve paid for it! Anyway, I survived my 3 minutes (just about) and even got a few laughs, but the experience didn’t make me want to quit my day job.

Anyway, I asked for an early shift so I could get home on time to deal with Columbo’s needs so I’ll update this post later on with a review of my performance. Or lack of it.

UPDATE: 10pm. Well, it turned out to be good fun. The audience was friendly and I got a few laughs. Although I didn’t really prepare very much materia,l and I was first one up so didn’t have a chance to see what went down well, I found it quite easy to make it up as I went along, given such a relaxed atmosphere. A couple of pints of Guinness probably helped too. Had to leave after the first half to see to Columbo, but I hope the rest of the evening went well.


19 Responses to “Bright Club”

  1. Adrian Burd Says:

    Exercise class? Has telescoper taken up aerobics? Inquiring minds need to know!

    • telescoper Says:

      It’s a new form of teaching in which I give the students problems to solve while I do 5 miles on a treadmill.

  2. Bryn Jones Says:

    Perhaps the audience could be entertained with readings from the cosmic Clerihews collection.

  3. Anton Garrett Says:

    What a ghastly concept a “Bright Club” is. It must be full of raving egotists – worse still, intelligent ones. Peter is presumably the exception (to egotism, that is…)

    • telescoper Says:


      It was actually a very enjoyable evening, although I had to leave after the first set. The only raving egotist was a lecturer in Film Studies from the University of Glamorgan; worse still he wasn’t even slightly funny. It was painful to watch him die on stage, but somehow he deserved it!


    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Did he claim to have a PhD…?

    • telescoper Says:

      No, but I know a man who did..

  4. Bryn Jones Says:

    When I first heard of a Bright Club, I confused it with the group of atheists who call themselves brights. I presume there is no connection.

    • Anton Garrett Says:

      I *am* under the impression that they are the same thing. But maybe I am not very bright…

    • Bryn Jones Says:

      Atheist-only humour? I wonder what that would be like.

      Rather different to Dave Allen presumably.

    • This has to be one of the worst PR moves in history. Yes, I understand the idea of taking a concept and giving it a new, positive meaning, like “gay” or, even, “nigger”. However, most people don’t complain about not being gay (in the old sense), while most people will feel insulted about, implicitly, being called not bright.

      (Second on my list is “pro choice”. Even if one thinks that women have a right to abortion and thus disagrees with the “pro life” group, the point is that the “pro life” group is not anti-choice, but is rather motivated by other concerns. One might dismiss these concerns, but “pro choice” unfairly characterises the other group as “anti-choice” when that is not the issue at all. Some people just don’t get it, e.g.

      Now I don’t like Rand Paul’s politics, and even if one disagrees with all his positions, the above link does not demonstrate that he is a hypocrite, as P.Z. would have us believe. It is one thing to disagree with someone’s position; it is another to unfairly characterise that position.)

    • telescoper Says:


      “Bright Club” is not connected with the Brights (whom I hadn’t heard of until this morning).

      I didn’t realise that there is a wikipedia page that explains what its about.

      Basically it’s a chance for academics to talk about the funny side of their work.


    • Anton Garrett Says:

      Indeed Phillip, maybe someone will start a “Modesty Club” so that people can brag about how modest they are.

      Rhetoric was always a dirty business. Another point which people often don’t get is that you say different things to a person you disagree with when (i) you are trying to change his mind in a personal conversation, and (ii) you are in a debate with him in front of an audience for whose minds you are competing.

      Peter: thanks for the clarification. I’m glad you’ve shed light on that subject.

  5. telescoper Says:

    In point of fact there’s another Bright Club event tonight in London, featuring (amongst others), John Butterworth:

  6. […] Old “Two Cultures” Thing… Just a very brief follow-up to a post earlier this week about the 2nd Bright Club Wales. First, for all of you who refuse to believe I […]

  7. […] seems my 12-minute stab at being a comedian at Bright Club Wales has led me to the dizzy heights of fame. So much so that I’ve even appeared in the latest […]

  8. […] that a few months ago I tried my hand at stand-up comedy at the Second Bright Club Wales (see posts here and here). Last night I went along to the latest Bright Club show, number 4 of what I hope will be […]

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