Comedian Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science) brings his show about science and badgers to the Jericho Tavern tonight

I’m a proud Bristolian, Doctor of Science and silly sausage... and after many years in the laboratory, followed by seven years in stand-up, I’m delighted to perform my first solo show in Oxford.

I’m preforming a preview of my debut stand-up hour, Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science), at the Jericho Tavern tomorrow. It’s a comedy show about science, OCD and badgers told through the story of my biochemistry PhD.

I’ve always loved comedy. I used to copy comedians’ routines at school. I’d be 13, reciting material by Harry Hill or Lee Evans, or re-enacting scenes from Father Ted. But comedy was never a career path for me; that was always science. I was good at science and it always made sense to me. The structure and logic. The evidence and theory. Much more rational and explainable than the magical nature of comedy.

Why was Harry Hill’s badger parade so funny? I didn’t know how you test for that. I did a biochemistry degree and went on to do a PhD, to become a ‘real’ scientist. I thought I was good. When I started my PhD I genuinely thought that I would win a Nobel prize… what hubris!

In the end, a career as a research scientist wasn’t for me. Firstly, I wasn’t as good as I thought I was. My PhD supervisor once said I’d make an excellent technician. He said it like it was a compliment, when it’s really like telling someone who wants to be a footballer that they’d make a good football. Secondly, I left the lab because I had an accident with radioactivity which caused me to develop OCD.

So, I left laboratory science and became a science writer in Oxford. It was at this stage I thought, ‘I need to try comedy’, so I did a comedy course; six weeks of building material with a comedy mentor leading to a final performance in a showcase.

The Oxford Times:

As I’ve progressed in comedy, I’ve come to realise how similar science and comedy actually are. Comedy isn’t magical, it’s iterative. It’s a craft that can be learnt, not an art bestowed on enigmatic geniuses. It’s trial and error. You fail so you can eventually succeed.

Science and comedy also come together because, in many ways, science is ridiculous. We treat science too reverentially. Brian Cox is regarded as a village elder; weaving tales about time travel and multiverses; teaching us things we can never truly understand. I’ve heard scientists discuss their work in the driest terms, but when you cut through the jargon all they do is dissect Fruit Fly testicles. When you geld bluebottles for a living, perhaps you should play down your role in the progress of humanity.

I also dedicate a nice chunk of the show to badgers. This is not just a homage to Harry Hill. Basically, I ruddy love badgers. They’re like stocky little working-class zebras. There’s no mood that can’t be improved by a picture of an inquisitive badger.

  • Come along to the show and find out how I went from being an ambitious, Nobel prize hunting academic, to a simple Bristolian of science. Tickets at wegottickets.com