You Can’t Polish a Nerd by Festival of The Spoken Nerd – DVD Review

When the rest of the world seems to be dumbing down, The Festival of the Spoken Nerd refuses to be anything but scientifically accurate entertainment.

Their latest DVD and download release You Can’t Polish a Nerd manages to be both smart and silly in equal measures. The clever crew of mathematician Matt Parker, experiments maestro Steve Mould and singer of sciencey songs Helen Arney put their collective comedy intellect to good use. They aren’t editing genes or inventing rocket fuel but instead pursuing the important mission of bring laughter where it’s needed. Which is, frankly, everywhere right about now.

Who else would calculate pi using actual pies or ponder calculating Planck’s constant using an actual plank? The concepts may be nerdy, but statistically significant amounts of laughter ensue.

Themes such as recursion are there to boggle the mind as well as tickle the funny bone. Matt Parker takes us on an infinite loop on the unboxing video. Helen Arney provides a truly impressive updated version of the Elements Song other ukulele, and reminds us that we are all astronauts really, even if we didn’t make it to NASA.

The scientific concepts are complex but are presented with such joyous hilarity that you don’t need a PhD to be entertained. Matt Parker shares the nerdiest ever bathroom décor and Steve Mould demonstrates experimental fun that means we will all need a new microwave for Christmas.

Matt Parker’s further exploration of recursion using a spherical camera, a green screen and some juggling is utterly original; both fascinating and funny.

Admittedly the subject matter is pretty niche, but you don’t have to have “a deep and profound understanding of gravitational waves” to laugh at the domestic consequences of Steve Mould’s obsession with experimentation. Equally joyful is Helen Arney’s sweetly silly song about the radioactive properties of various substances. This typifies the trio’s ability to share serious scientific data but though the media of song and, surprisingly, banana costume.

Don’t believe the politicians, we have not had enough of experts. Certainly not when they are this funny.