Possibly one of the more unlikely comedians to perform at this year’s Fringe is Dr Matt Winning, a professional climate change specialist with a PhD on the subject. When you walk into the attic of Mash House, where his show takes place, the scene is strangely familiar. There is a projector and a screen at the front of the room, and rows of chairs arranged neatly facing it. Winning himself is dressed in a shirt and tie and holds a PowerPoint clicker. In short, it looks as if you are about to hear a lecture on climate change.
This is actually fairly close to the truth. Winning attempts to combine the format of an academic lecture with stand-up comedy, presenting a routine which is full of both facts and jokes. The premise of his show is that he and his girlfriend want to have a baby, but that this is statistically the worst thing you can possibly do to the environment. What follows is his attempt to reconcile his beliefs as a climate change scientist with his longing for a child. He tells the story of his attempts to off-set his future baby, which include going vegan, switching his light bulbs, and selling his car.
Winning’s show has many strengths. At times it produces big laughs, and it is clear that he does not take himself too seriously. It is also laden with interesting and lesser known facts about climate change and the greatest things we can do to help the environment. Winning spends a fair amount of time talking about the recent census result showing that most of the people in the UK believe that climate change is an issue, but not a large enough one to do anything about. His analysis of this complacency is both entertaining and educational, and leaves the audience wondering whether or not we could all do more.
There are, however, a couple of moments in the show where it feels as though the pace is dragging, and some of the jokes seem to fall flat. While these moments are certainly in the minority, they are still fairly noticeable and suggest that the show might require a little more polishing. This is perhaps unsurprising, as Winning is stepping into fairly unknown territory in terms of genre. Overall, he has confidence and is able to deliver his comedic lines to good effect.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Climate Strange is its premise and its form. This is an example of comedy that is doing something unusual as Winning has created a show which is truly one-of-a-kind, combining education with stand-up. This is comedy which tells you something, delivered by someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Winning himself says that the reason he wanted to make this show is because it’s such an important topic. He believes that the information we already have is not compelling us to change, so maybe this information should be relayed in a different way. Climate Strange is a fresh look at both comedy and the environment.
Matt Winning: Climate Strange
Just the Tonic, Mash House
11-26 August (not 13th)
Photo Credit: Jessica McDermott