The first rule of Bright Club is you have to make science funny

Access Science: Researchers will take to a stage in Dublin to inform audiences while also making them laugh

Dr David McKeown, a research engineer at University College Dublin: ‘It will be just me and the microphone and that is scary.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Dr David McKeown, a research engineer at University College Dublin: ‘It will be just me and the microphone and that is scary.’ Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

What if you could get a glimpse of the funny side of what researchers do by hearing their jokes?

Next week, a handful of intrepid researchers will take to a stage in Dublin at an event called Bright Club, where they will try their hands at stand-up comedy. Their goal? To make the audience laugh, but also to get them thinking a little more about the subject matter.

This is a new way for people to mix it up with the scientific community. Clearly it is going to be a challenge for scientists to bring their work to the people in the context of improv and stand-up comedy.

“The idea is to get researchers to do a stand-up-style set about their work, and one of the rules of Bright Club is that you have to try to be funny,” says physicist and comedy improv performer Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, who is organising and compering the event.

Just as with Bright Clubs in the UK, the Dublin event will feature a mixture of researchers and professional performers. “It’s like a thinking person’s variety night, ” says Fairfield, a postdoctoral researcher at Amber in Trinity College Dublin, which is supporting the event. “It’s going to be a mix of science and humanities and social science and music: we want to cover a broad range.”

The researchers-turned-comedians are being coached in advance by scientist-turned-performer Dr Niamh Shaw, who will also be taking the stage at Bright Club.

Dr David McKeown, a research engineer at University College Dublin whose work seeks to reduce potentially dangerous vibrations in rockets, will be in the spotlight with his jokes. He admits being “a little scared, terrified and anxious” about it, but is also looking forward to it.

“I’m feeling a mixture of excitement and complete terror but that is quite healthy I imagine,” says McKeown, who is no stranger to delivering public talks about his work. “If you are giving science talks you want to be entertaining, but this time there will be no slides, it will be just me and the microphone and that is scary. Also, when you give a science talk no one really expects you to be funny, but if you are doing stand-up they do.”

So will we know all about rocket science after his eight minutes of mirth? “I am going to talk about space, but it will be lighthearted; there won’t be any equations,” says McKeown. “And maybe people will learn a little bit about what I do.”

Fairfield is keen that the event attracts an audience outside the research community. “The idea is to make it less of a university outreach night and more of an entertainment night,” she says. “That will benefit both the audience and the performers; the researchers will get quite a bit out of finding funny and engaging ways to talk about their research. I’m really excited about it and I’d like this to be the first of many.”

 

Bright Club is on Wednesday, February 4th, at 7.30pm at 4 Dame Lane, Dublin (doors open at 7pm). Twitter.com/brightclubdub, facebook.com/BrightClubDublin. Tickets €5, available online at eventbrite.ie or in limited numbers at the door

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.