Thursday, 5 March 2015
I've remarked before on how popular science and stand-up comedy are becoming interchangeable as a small army of science-graduate comics eagerly spread the word for scientism, while the groovier scientists adopt the tropes and tricks of stand-up. It's begun to happen with popular history too, with the likes of Paul Sinha - and now, I fear, a similar process might be under way with stand-up comedy and art history. Last night on Radio 4 I caught a woman called Hannah Gadsby, who is Tasmanian and gay (nothing wrong with either of those) and describes herself as a 'comedian/ art historian' (plenty wrong with that). She delivered a supposed comedy lecture on Manet's Olympia, which managed to convey nothing new or interesting about that much-studied painting, and was most definitely not funny. The 'comedy', such as it was, was infused with that right-on, aren't-we-the-smart ones smugness that characterises Radio 4's science/comedy mash-up The Infinite Monkey Cage, but it was even less funny. Not that that deterred the studio audience, each of whom had apparently been equipped with a face mask and a tank of nitrous oxide. Gales of helpless laughter swept the auditorium punctually every 15 seconds or so. The series is called Hannah Gadsby: Arts Clown, and I do not recommend it.