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Maths at the Edinburgh Fringe

Every August a multitude of comedy shows, theatre pieces, interpretive dance performances, musical extravaganzas and spoken word events spring up all over the Edinburgh Fringe. As a busy mathematician (there are infinitely many integers; who has spare time?) I’m sure you’ll appreciate our guide to which of those things are mathematical, or have a tangential (LOL) relationship with mathematics. Please note: none of these are recommendations, as we haven’t seen the shows and mainly have been grepping the word ‘maths’ in online programmes.

Matt Parker: Number Ninja

Matt Parker: Number NinjaBehold! Further evidence that maths is a thing which popular entertainment can be based on, and not the terrifying subject of horror and difficulty that its stereotype would suggest. Not only do we have a maths-based TV gameshow (now in its second series), and even a maths-based cop drama, but maths is also the topic of a UK-touring comedy show, performed by Aperiodical homie Matt Parker.

We sent Dave Hughes, of the Leeds MathsJam, along as a scout to one of Matt’s recent performances, and here’s what he thought of the show.

If you never thought maths could be made funny, you’ve never seen any of Matt Parker’s shows. Matt’s latest Number Ninja show takes a whirlwind trip through the everyday uses of mathematics in an accessible and fun way.  His friendly and approachable personality invites audience participation pretty much all the way through with demonstrations of concepts which may have been previously shrouded in mystery.

This show debunks a number of mathematical myths and shows the audience that maths is not to be feared. You will go away from this show with much to think and talk about. Just how much of everyday life is really down to coincidence? Ever wondered how barcodes work? Who did knit that scarf for Matt? All these questions and more are answered here – it’s designed to be appealing to all – you don’t have to be a complete number-brain to enjoy it!

There are still a couple of dates left on the tour, in Havant (Hampshire) and Barnstaple (Devon). For more details, visit www.standupmaths.com. If you can’t catch him on this run, Matt also does regular shows in London and occasionally tours as part of the excellent Festival of the Spoken Nerd.

A mathematical monologue

The Mathematics of ChangeThe Mathematics of Change is a comic monologue about a Princeton freshman studying mathematics, performed by ‘acclaimed comic monologuist Josh Kornbluth‘. According to Wikipedia, the monologue ‘describes how despite a love for mathematics he “hit the wall” in his freshman classes at Princeton’ and ‘draws parallels between calculus and life’. Ha – parallels. Good one. From the trailer, it looks like the entire performance takes place in front of an increasingly-covered-in-maths lecture theatre blackboard.

Described as an ‘off-Broadway hit’, the show has toured the US playing in universities and theatres, and is set in the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute at Berkeley. The show’s site features a trailer as well as a link to buy the DVD.

P-Value Extravaganza

This is the best video about frequentist statistics I’ve ever seen. Watch and enjoy:

[youtube url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVMVGHkt2cg]

by Jesse Kelly Productions.

Found on youtube’s math blog. If that blog really is automatically generated, I think we need to reject the null hypothesis that Google hasn’t invented strong AI. Am I doing it right? brb, going to watch the video again.

Humans v Nature – Engineering comedy show

Fresh from success with their maths/comedy tour Your Days Are Numbered: The Mathematics of Death, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker and comic/writer Timandra Harkness have put together a new maths-based comedy show, and this time instead of statistics getting the comedy treatment, it’s engineering. The show, titled ‘Humans v Nature: Engineering FTW’ looks at all the challenges Mother Nature has thrown in our way, like darkness, cold weather, gravity and hay fever, and all the things engineers have come up with to combat them. Also: there will be robots.

Supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the show will preview under various titles at Cheltenham Science Festival, Winchester Science Festival and Cardiff Science Festival before a 10-day run at the Edinburgh Fringe comedy festival. Tickets are now on sale, here:

http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/humans-v-nature-engineering-ftw