Friday, September 17, 2010

Fringe Science

Friends New and Old,

Well, the Edinburgh Fringe 2010 is concluded and I'm back in London, back on my grind, back on tour, reading and writing and gigging and muddling about. Sorry, that last bit was a post-partum pang.

How did it go? Exceptionally well! I performed over fifty shows in three and a half weeks and didn't die of exhaustion, or even lose my voice. My cavalier decision to list myself as part of the Edinburgh Comedy Festival (as opposed to "theatre") for the first time ever was vindicated by a five-star review in Chortle on the second-to-last day of the Fringe, an awesome (though scientifically very confused) write-up that helped me sell zero tickets but at least left me with a jolly after-glow. Click here to read it.

Even my little pet project, Rapconteur, got some love at the Fringe. The best review I got for it was a five-star praise-fest from Three Weeks, which you can view by clicking here.

Rapconteur was also my first foray into the Free Fringe, where the audience pays nothing and at the end of the show I stand by the door with a donation jar making puppy-dog eyes as they shuffle past, some paying and some avoiding my panhandling gaze. It was a bit of an experiment, and if you're curious to know how it went (financially and otherwise), I wrote up the results in one of my blogs for

I'm not just being ironic calling the Free Fringe an experiment either. After the show one day I was approached by some behavioral economists who are keen to experiment more formally with audience altruism and publish the quantified results, a prospect that makes me childishly excited, but more of that anon.

Speaking of experiments, in The Rap Guide to Human Nature I phoned my sister Dawn from the stage every single day for twenty six consecutive days, waking her up most mornings in the midst of her summer holiday (my Edinburgh show started at 7:45am Vancouver time). The point? I kept track of which days she answered the phone and which days I got voicemail and used the data at the end of the month to predict her ovulation cycle. If this makes no sense to you (hint: it's about evolutionary incest avoidance instincts), check out this article by Michael Shermer on the science behind the experiment:

And the results? Well, here's the calendar (used with Dawn's kind permission):

A very straightforward prediction follows from the Michael Shermer article. So how does that prediction square with her actual fertility cycle? I edited the results into a youtube video (the future of science outreach), which you can watch at the link below. Warning: this video contains information about my sister's fertility cycle. For educational use only! Click here to watch.

Hmm, how can I round out this highly eclectic newsletter? I know, with a link to a music video I made with some tree planter friends back in May, an ode to Canada's highly sheltered position (and policies) in regards to catastrophic climate change. It's like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" crossed with the party at the end of Return of the Jedi. Get ready to travel down a path that may soon be very popular, the Road Northwest. Click to watch on Youtube.

Hasta la vista,



Anonymous said...

Hi Baba

Just came to see The Rebel Cell at Poole. Thanks for a great evening. Thought you might like to see the review on my blog.

Best wishes


Peter said...

Hi Baba,
One of those shows was a Hammer and Tongue slam. Thanks for getting up for us. I was listening to Human Nature on your webpage which I totally dig. Have you done anything on memetics? I might find an accademic here in Oxford to lay own a challenge! I am working on a climate change spoken word stage show, touring theatres from Feb 'Pete the Temp verses Climate Change!' thanks for the good example

Jlourenco said...


What happened to your website? Are you going to just maintain a blog from now on?

pooja said...

I want to know that what happened with you then you continue it or not?????

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