Monday, 28 October 2013

Bright Club
Guest post by Natasha Bray

…And there I was, heart pounding, palms sweating, trembling with nerves; yet apparently ready to go up on stage armed with a microphone with the combined goal of informing and entertaining. As a neuroscience PhD student, I can recite the usual signs of the ‘fight or flight’ response, but until that evening in Nexus Arts Café I had to test out another ‘f’ – ‘funny’…

As the audience chuckled at how the world’s first brain imaging experiment involved the scientist calling the test subject’s wife a ‘loose lady’, I silently wished that every lab meeting were this enjoyable. I told anecdotes about the temperamental experiments I had done, compared the brain’s blood flow to a banker’s bonus and, somewhat less scientifically, encouraged the use of compression socks for prolonged concentration.

Before I knew it, there was a round of applause and I’d survived! Coming off stage felt euphoric and the buzz remained for the rest of the evening as I listened to the fascinating, hilarious remaining sets of a crystal chemist, a nuclear bin man/PhD student and the only comic book historian I have (to this day) ever encountered.

As a researcher, especially in a university setting, it is all too easy to become trapped in the academic bubble and assume that everyone either a) already knows what you do, or b) couldn’t care less. On rare occasions you may even think that some horrid people c) know what you do, yet still aren’t that interested. Bright Club, however, aims to change all that.

In preparation sessions, the Bright Club organisers teach all the acts how to go about writing gags, as well as how to look like they know what they’re doing on stage. For many (myself included) it’s the first time they’ve held a microphone outside a dodgy karaoke bar. But after drafting, redrafting and a few practice run-throughs, it’s time to experiment with stand-up. Bright Club is the perfect haven for all kinds of researchers to frame their research with comedy to let the audience know why a research topic is worth their interest…and their laughs.

Natasha Bray has just submitted her PhD thesis about brain stuff and will be taking to the stage for a second time at the ‘Monster’ Bright Club on 31st October at Gorilla.

Click for more information and tickets for Bright Club Manchester at Manchester Science Festival or visit the Bright Club Manchester Facebook page.

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