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Carl Sagan is My God, Oh and Richard Feynman Too
Published on Thursday, 11 August 2011
3

3 stars

The Canons' Gait (venue website)
Comedy
5-17, 19-28 Aug, 12:10pm-1:00pm
Reviewed by Kirsty Leckie-Palmer

 Recommended for age 18+ only. Venue may not permit under-18's - check with venue before booking.

I foolishly expected arriving 25 minutes early at The Canon’s Gait would guarantee a good spot to see Robin Ince, but as soon I sauntered through the doors into the crowded space, I knew that was wishful thinking. Even on a Sunday at noon, which Ince himself admits is “still morning”, festival-goers drag themselves to the pub for this free ticketed show – because he is such an enduring and popular choice at the Fringe.

Carl Sagan is my God, Oh, and Richard Feynman too is not only a wonderful title for padding out a reviewer’s word count, but also an opportunity for Ince to share his passion for science. During the show, he reads excerpts from Richard Feynman and discusses his abiding interest in the subject with an infectious sense of wonder.  He eventually gives way and introduces us to his guests (Chris Cox, Nick Doody and Helen Arney in this instance).  It’s a great way to structure the show, raising awareness for other comedians in a festival where recognition is everything.

In seeing Robin Ince, I always come away with the impression he has so much more to say, that he wants to share and inspire. I was a little concerned I’d have to be a particle physicist in order to enjoy it – I noticed the incidence of people wearing abstruse t-shirts at the venue was disproportionate to anywhere else I’d been outside of, well, last year’s Robin Ince gig.  It’s true his shows are geek-pleasers (he talks at length about a series of books about giant crabs, which is fairly special-interest) but they are more-or-less accessible to an audience of generalists, and explanations are offered to avoid leaving anyone behind.

The acts on the guest line-up were so varied, if I had to find a theme which linked them all it would just have to be, very broadly, 'science'. The hilarious Chris Cox, amusingly featuring in a FringeGuru review of his full show that same weekend, was introduced as ‘a mind reader who can’t read minds’. He kicked off by explaining a couple of simple tricks, which seemed utterly obvious, then proceeded to baffle everyone anyway. Nick Doody took a little time to warm the crowd, but he nonetheless won out in spite of any initial suspicion that a man in a wrinkled shirt referring to a notepad may engender.  And closing, Helen Arney sang funny, deftly written songs about science in a fragile, beautiful voice, while playing the ukulele.

Carl Sagan is my God, Oh, and Richard Feyman too isn’t plotted, or particularly polished – so if you’re looking for a story or a performance you can passively observe, it might not suit. If, however, you’d like to get your mind in gear, learn of some books worth reading (giant crabs!), and become an honorary geek for an hour then this may be the show for you.

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