In one respect, More 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People is a celebration of science and wonder. In another respect, it’s basically Robin Ince‘s arena-sized sample tape of all his favorite things. A science-themed variety show, M9L&CfGP features scientists, musicians, and comedians. Unlike the first DVD, 9 Lessons and Carols for Godless People, there are absolutely no duds on this bill, and even if there were, Alan Moore‘s piece alone is worth the price. I wish I could recount everything to you, from riding in a swan paddle boat with Stewart Lee (I assume/hope this was for the film Swandown) to staring Brian Cox in the eyes, but I’ll tell you this much: Alan Moore described a couple theories of the universe that he’d heard, one being that the theoretical science and mathematical data shows that there is a certain model of the universe that makes a lot more sense than our half-understood model we have now, and that model is that we are all holograms projected from a 2D surface from somewhere beyond the rim of the universe. Chew on that as you fight down your cosmic vertigo.
A few delightful returns from the first DVD include Josie Long, who teaches us how to have fun with the holidays by making your own advent calendar and mis-matching the jokes and punchlines in Christmas crackers; Richard Herring‘s full-length warning as to the perils of exponents as illustrated through a chocolate pyramid; and Isy Sutti‘s hilarious Welsh ballad, which is also featured on Stewart Lee’s The Alternative Comedy Experience vol. 1 DVD.
With the exception of Sutti, I really couldn’t stand the musical acts on the first DVD. This time, I loved them all. Grace Petrie sang my favorite Grace Petrie song, Iago; Gavin Osborn sang about Sagan and Salzman falling in love while making a mixtape for the universe (a real highlight of the show); Helen Arney sang about a boy with snowman phobia; and the show closed on Jim Bob Carter singing with the Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra surrounded by bubbles. And then there’s Martin White. Let’s take a minute to talk about Martin White and his pseudo-Russian Broadway-esque cabaret song about tea, as it was one of those bonkers moments (I say moments, but it went on so long, Robin Ince came out during the sixtieth verse to see what the hell was going on) that the show would not be complete without. I’ve been a fan of Martin White’s accordion playing since I first heard him on Robin Ince’s Show and Tell podcast (especially the Jason Byrne episode), but I just realized that I never knew what he looked like. Here, he sings about how he’s not picky about the way he takes his tea, which is intermissioned by serving fake tea to his orchestra and someone playing the teapot like a trumpet, but clearly he hadn’t expected someone backstage to fill it with dry ice to simulate steam. “Just don’t breathe in,” Martin warned him.
Robin Ince enters the stage between each act to provide chopped up bits of his Happiness Through Science show and to introduce the next act, which includes:
- Steve Mould on extracting sodium polyacrylate from diapers to make magic snow
- Jo Neary’s faux-nervous illustrated sex shop jokes
- Ian Stone’s standup set about North Korea and being Jewsih
- Nick Doody’s standup set about religion and science: “Funding for science is cut so badly that people from the future can no longer come back to warn us.”
- Matt Parker’s mathematical graphs: Harddrives get bigger every couple years, but Windows requires more harddrive space every 1.5 years, so you’re not getting more data storage.
Sadly there are not really any extra features on the DVD, but it’s a long show and well-worth the purchase from GoFasterStripe.com.
“Happy Christmas,” Robin Ince ends with, “or as we atheists say, Happy Christmas.”