Your Days Are Numbered went far beyond your average comedy show. As well as being treated to a stream of jokes, the crowd on Sunday night at the Museum of Science and Industry actually learned something in the process.
Like the trendy teachers you remember from high school, mathematician Matt Parker and comedian Timandra Harkness tried to show that maths is cool as they used national health statistics to advice the audience how to live longer.
Along with exploring the ramifications of being single or in a relationship, the ideal daily alcohol intake and the safest methods of transport; the show also compared the risks of dying from things such as nuclear radiation, bees or from falling out of bed.
Using a symbolic ‘Death Clock’ – which, from the look of it, I imagine Matt knocked up in his shed one rainy Wednesday afternoon – the pair proceeded to kill audience members off sporadically throughout the show for various reasons. Whether it was from smoking, canoeing, taking ecstasy or from a shark attack, no one was left standing at the end of the show.
But before I give the impression that this event was just a slightly morbid statistics lecture, I should probably say that the show was genuinely funny – it did sell out venues at this year’s Edinburgh Festival after all.
Timandra in particular was delightfully cheeky, and acted rather as the clichéd spoonful of sugar, flirtatiously helping the audience swallow a potentially unsavoury volume of maths.
It was however somewhat revealing that the biggest laugh of the night came from an audience heckle, commenting on Matt’s failure to label the axes on a graph.
The event was part of the Manchester Science Festival and at the end of the show Matt was presented with the Josh Award – an annual award granted for innovations in the communication of science.
From this performance I would say that title is definitely deserved. While the show may not have been a rip-roaring, laugh-a-minute comedy set, it was fun and engaging throughout and the audience seemed to love it.
Manchester Science Festival runs until Sunday. For listings of further events you can visit www.manchestersciencefestival.com.