An Idiot’s Adventures In Gameland – Steve McNeil

#3 Festival of the Spoken Nerd 

Last Sunday, I was down in Brighton with Rob Sedgebeer (All Hail King Rob) to preview our new live video-gaming/comedy game-show “thing”, WiFi Wars. We were the second half of a double bill at The Old Market (brilliant theatre, go there) and the gang that made up the other half were Helen Arney, Steve Mould and Matt Parker – better known as Festival of the Spoken Nerd.

They’ve been doing shows together since 2011, and have built up a healthy following by being brilliant at making science fun, something many of you may find impossible to believe if you had anything like my experience of GCSE biology and chemistry – other than fannying around with Bunsen burners and seeing how much light woodlice like, I’ve absolutely no recollection of what I did during those two years.

FOTSN (as they shall henceforth be known for brevity, and because it’s their twitter handle) are currently working on a new show to take up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and, based on what we got to see on Sunday, it’s going to be a highlight for anybody heading up there. A mixture of stand-up, song and cutting-edge retro tech (live fax-ing, anyone?), it’s a wonderful celebration of all things nerd and, as such, probably exactly the sort of thing that’s up your alley if you’re reading this.

They’re also about to release their first DVD – The show’s brilliant, but the love they’ve poured into the DVD extras (a whole extra disc!) is what really makes it worthwhile – the subtitles translated into Klingon, then back into English, are worth the asking price alone. You can order a copy here.

The guys have also been working and performing solo for many years, in-fact the first ever comedy gig I did with my double act partner Sam Pamphilon was at one of Steve Mould’s gigs, almost exactly seven years ago today. Whilst that no doubt remains Mr Mould’s career highlight, he was also Blue Peter’s science expert for years, and was on Sunday Brunch last Sunday – although I gather he received NO brunch; surely an issue to be raised with Trading Standards.

Helen Arney’s another regular on the circuit we’ve crossed paths with many times, and has made something of a name for herself with her science songs, appearing regularly on Radio 4, and alongside “Clever People”, Robin Ince and Brian Cox.

Matt Parker pops up on telly all over the place too, and recently had his first book published by Penguin.

He’s also the regular warm-up guy each year for the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, which is where our show WiFi Wars began.

Yes, dear reader, I’ve brought it back round to me. As a little preview of what to expect if you come along to the show (and, dear God, please do – there’s HUNDREDS of seats in that place) I’ve put together a video just for readers of this column – it’s a little bit more spoiler-y than our main teaser trailer so feel free to avoid it if you’re coming but want to save the surprises. However, if you’re trying to convince people to come along with you and they just can’t get their heads around what a live videogaming/comedy show even IS, hopefully this video will explain it a bit.

If not, I’ve failed. But if failure bothered me, I’d have never got into comedy in the first place.

See you (or, rather, ‘read me’) next week! Please!

Just in case you’ve forgotten since it appeared at the top of this article, tickets are available for WiFi Wars at the Royal Institution, 21st July. 

You can find out more about Festival of the Spoken Nerd, including tour dates here.

Photo of FOTSN by Idil Sukan/Draw HQ

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