Festival of the Spoken Nerd is the epitome of what Anglonerd.com is all about. If their first DVD Full Frontal Nerdity, a comedic display of science and math, doesn’t intrigue you, you probably don’t belong on this website. In lieu of real jokes, there are graphs. Even the real jokes get plotted along the way. While the acting isn’t great (very few moments seem genuinely spontaneous), the content and characterization of these nerds makes for a wildly entertaining and educational spectacle. The DVD is decorated with red boxes that look like Tetris but are actually pieces to a game called Life, one superior to the Milton Bradley board game. Inappropriate words are bleeped or dubbed, making a show appropriate for ages 12 and up (and possibly younger, really. I mean, one audience member reroutes his cycle path in the shape of a penis, but that’s about it.).
“Has Steve physicsed all over the stage again?” –Matt
First, there’s physicist Steve Mould, a youthish experimentalist who likes to set fire to things and electrocute pickles. Steve’s claim to fame is “the Mould effect,” the effect of strung-together beads leaping out of a jar, an effect that’s since been studied by physicists and commemorated in architecture.
Then there’s Helen Arney, a favorite nerdy comedian of mine, in a periodic table dress. With her ukulele, she sings songs of synesthesia and an animated love song from the future. Most incredibly, she breaks a wine glass with her singing.
Finally, there’s mathematician Matt Parker, whose mother once knitted him a scarf in binary. Matt teaches us that all photos are spreadsheets and that even real life can be broken down into “pixels” at the Planck Length.
The trippiest part of the show is when we learn that there’s no such color as magenta. It doesn’t have a wavelength and therefore only exists in our mind. It’s simply our brain telling us that the green cone in our eyes is not firing, but the red and blue are. They do an optical illusion that apparently freaked out an American audience member earlier in the tour.
Finally, the show ends with an epic Nerd Anthem, sung by Helen Arney, with Steve and Matt running around behind her cramming in as many science experiments and mathematical facts–from overhead projectors to more fire spinning in a trash can–as possible before the night is out.
And if you think that 100-minutes of nonstop nerdity is well worth five pounds, just wait until you hear about the extra features! Not only are there 85 minutes of bonus videos, but there are also multiple commentary tracks, including a director’s commentary of the director’s commentary; subtitles in English, binary, and partial Klingon; soundtracks (safe for kids and not safe for kids), and a 20-page booklet (PDF or printed, depending if you get the DVD or the download).
I love this DVD and look forward to more like it from Festival of the Spoken Nerd. You can get the DVD (region 2/PAL) or download here.