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Festival of The Spoken Nerd: You Can’t Polish a Nerd

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Geeky comedy provides statistically significant laughter

Image of Festival of The Spoken Nerd: You Can’t Polish a Nerd

Available on DVD now.

When the rest of the world seems to be dumbing down, The Festival of the Spoken Nerd refuses to be anything but scientifically accurate entertainment.

Their latest DVD and download release You Can’t Polish a Nerd manages to be both smart and silly in equal measures. The clever crew of mathematician Matt Parker, experiments maestro Steve Mould and singer of sciencey songs Helen Arney put their collective comedy intellect to good use. They aren’t editing genes or inventing rocket fuel but instead pursuing the important mission of bringing laughter where it’s needed. Which is, frankly, everywhere right about now.

Their unique brand of science and maths based comedy celebrates their geekiness. The trio seem to have such fun on stage it is impossible to resist the infectious, intelligent fun. Who else would calculate pi using actual pies or ponder calculating Planck’s constant using an actual plank? The concepts may be nerdy, but statistically significant amounts of laughter ensue.

Themes such as recursion are there to boggle the mind as well as tickle the funny bone.  Parker takes us on an intriguing infinite loop on the unboxing video. Arney provides a truly impressive updated version of the Elements Song on her ukulele, and reminds us that we are all astronauts really, even if we didn’t make it to NASA.

The scientific concepts are complex but are presented with such joyous hilarity that you don’t need a PhD to be entertained.  Parker shares the nerdiest ever bathroom décor, Mould demonstrates experimental antics that means we will all need a new microwave for Christmas, and Parker’s further exploration of recursion using a spherical camera, a green screen and some juggling is utterly original; both fascinating and funny.

Admittedly the subject matter is pretty niche, but you don’t have to have “a deep and profound understanding of gravitational waves” to laugh at the domestic consequences of Mould’s obsession with experimentation.

Don’t believe the politicians. We have not had enough of experts. Certainly not when they are this funny.


Originally from the west of Scotland, Elaine spent a couple of decades living and working in the festival city of Edinburgh, before migrating north to the beautiful Scottish Highlands. A lover of books and writing, she is also a science geek and believes most things can be improved with red wine.

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