Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science)
Performed at JustTheTonic at The Caves at 12:10 pm every day from 1st to 25th August (except 12th).
The Wee Review - Three Stars
Solid science-based comedy from one positively charged proton
Cutting his teeth on Oxford’s ‘intelligent comedy’ scene, Matt Hobs brings a friendly combination of science, Bristol and badgers to Just the Tonic this year. BSc (Bristolian of Science) is not the infectious riot that some other comedians might offer. For an early lunchtime slot though, Hobs goes down with his audience like proteins being deliciously absorbed by the small intestine.
Immediately clear to everyone is Hobs’ unmistakable accent, and he wastes no time delivering a bit of dirt about Bristol. These early jokes don’t quite latch onto the crowd quite as expected, and come amidst Hobs trying to explain how the show is going to work. They are, however, lighthearted and funny enough to leave a lasting good impression.
It is when he starts to turn his focus towards science that the show really finds its footing. Never falling into the jargon trap, Hobs’ explanations are equal to that of the best lecturers, and undoubtedly funnier. His use of a PowerPoint even feels like something of a tongue-in-cheek dig at his university days. His scientific explanations for dating and romance border on the cringy, but leaves the audience laughing all the same. A Brian Cox conspiracy theory is especially brilliant, a ludicrous footnote that everyone gets on board with. Hobs would of course argue that this ‘theory’ is actually a scientific hypothesis. This lack of seriousness is an easy way to win over the crowd, something Hobs pulls off splendidly.
Despite the show’s title, Hobs’ relationship with science has been anything but easy. He is very open about how one particular incident during his PhD clouded his love for the subject, yet even down this more weighty story he finds glimmers of humour. He never loses the audience throughout this story, a testimony to the positive relationship he has with his crowd.
The show is occasionally a bit stuttery, with Hobs repeating things he has already said prior to diverging off onto something else. This never feels like too big an issue though. BSc is a very easy show to enjoy, starring a very likeable leading comic with a talent for multimedia comedy. It doesn’t matter whether you love science or hate it, because Hobs has been there, done both, and come back with a solid act to show for it. It will help, however, if you love badgers.
Review by JAMES HANTON
18 AUGUST 2019
Mumble Comedy - Three Stars
Material: 4 stars; Delivery: 4 stars; Laughs: 3 stars; Room: 3 stars,
Matt Hobs BSc (Bristolian of Science) has just confirmed for me that badgers are
dually adorable and cool, and that it is always funny to take the piss out of Brian Cox. To demonstrate such erudite emeralds, Hobs possesses puns and pictures, anecdotes and fun facts, and you can always just entertain yourself by listening to his accent. With Fringe-length stand-up shows, even when I am enjoying myself, there’s a spectre inside me just really excited for it all to end. Matt Hobs made me feel entirely the opposite – I was quite content to simply sit in his company and listen intently yet gently to what he had to say. It took a while for his engine to warm up – but as Hobs settled in, and the audience got used to his style, we warmed to him in open welcome and the earlier tumbleweed thoroughly cleared.
The first section was that kind of stand-up where you doubt the validity of the anecdotes and it stops them from being funny. But when he gets into his groove with the pre-promised science content, burnish’d bronze by his experience in the field, insightful laughter splashed into the room like water-sprinklers in a fire. I sensed a deliberate effort on the part of Hobs to make sure that certain sections of the show were on a non-scientific subjects, to mix it up, but I also sensed that the audience was there mainly for the science. Let it do what it says on the tin.
Nothing was ever needlessly dumbed down – I liked that – and his expertly constructed PowerPoint ensured that no-one was left behind, while providing a decent platform for visual comedy. Hobs also allowed himself some vulnerability towards the end, a winning move which got us firmly on his side. His strongest feature, I thought, was his likability, and I think opening up a bit earlier would have gone down well. He is definitely getting there, however, like a werewolf mid-change.