Tag Archives: John Cooper

A Pint of Science?

In May I presented a three day event in Manchester for The Pint of Science Festival & researchers from The University of Manchester. It was a feast of brain food for the naturally curious, and they were looking for someone to do hosting duties. I got the gig.

The Festival has been running for 8 years and brings researchers into local pubs all over the UK to get people interested in science, in this case machine thinking, extreme engineering and big data. Now I’m no scientist and a comedian as opposed to presenter  -the nearest I get to science is Doctor Who or reading Douglas Adams novel. However my geek credentials and curiosity served me well, even if the audience preferred hard research over warm up jokes, I was just the messenger.

Social media was big and #pintofscience trended on Twitter during the live events (there were 21 in Manchester alone!) When organiser Becky took a photo of myself and the other professors, we all put our drinks down out of shot – until she reminded us that it was the pint of Science Festival and drinks in hand were preferred!

Highlights for me were Professor Steve Furber’s Spinnaker Project. He had worked on the BBC Micro and Archimedes computers which filled my with nostalgia. Dr Mostafa Nabawy and his bio-inspired micro robots. Making tiny spiders that jump and flies that fly sounded like a Sci-fi disaster movie waiting to happen. Dr Katie Druce’s talk on ‘what people mean when they say they don’t sleep’ and how it can be monitored was as clever as it was easy to understand, using fitbits to monitor activity at night in the bedroom (SLEEPING!). Also I particularly enjoyed ProfessorDavid Berezan’s Sounds of the sea, which uses real time data from sea buoys to create a dynamic soundscape. The combination of data, process and improvisation to create a hypnotic nautical composition pressed all of my buttons, and it was no surprise when we chatted that we are both fans of Delia Derbyshire and the BBC radiophonic workshop.

Big thanks to Becky Dodd and all the organisers at the University of Manchester for letting me share the stage, and for keeping me watered with some very good cider courtesy of the Beer Nouveau venue.

Micro Drones are here to take over the world!
Micro Drones are here to take over the world!

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Improvising in Ireland at Improv Utopia

I had an amazing time this weekend  at Improv Utopia in Ireland.  Joining over 100 improvisers from all over the world for games, workshops and loads of fun.

An opportunity to meet an improvise with folk from the USA, Ireland and  other countries all in one place. I’ve been to plenty of improv conventions in America over the last ten with my comedysportz troupe,  and honestly didn’t know what to expect from this – but it was every bit as cool as I’d hoped.

 

We took over Newgrange Lodge just North of  Dublin with some expert teachers including Nick Armstrong, Katy Schutte, and Neil Curran as well as the lovely Craig and Carla Cackowski From L.A.

Watching improv people together in large groups is quite a thing to behold, and probably quite curious to the outside world.  We played ‘diamond dance’ outside in the blistering sunshine. It’s a game about dance moves, but also leadership…but really – dance moves!  I could see the staff of Newgrange Lodge watching us, clearly a little bewildered and  amused by what they were watching.

Each workshop covered a different discipline.  From group work to using emotion, character and selling yourself.  The weekend reaffirmed  my love for improv and how it’s a great tool for connecting and building relationships.  Improv Utopia has been running for many years in the US, but this is the first time they have organised a residential outside of the US – and it proved to be a great success.  Big thanks to all the guys who put it together, it felt like being in America without actually being in America.

Sell it! – workshop with Craig Cackowski

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About John Cooper

He’s performed in hundreds of theatres around the UK and internationally as part of the CSz Manchester improv troupe. He has delivered workshops on how to use humour  and improv in business, taking part in the BBC2 series ‘The Speaker’ and the BBC New Comedy Awards. John is author of Present Yourself! – An illustrated guide to speaking in public and building confidence.