This December, to help you count down to Xmas, we’re going to share with you one story from Showoff in 2012 each day. They’re an introduction to us, our senses of humour, the things we care about and the things that entertain us. The whole point of this blog is to give some of the performances, ideas and friendships that happen at the Showoff family of gigs (that’s Science Showoff, Museums Showoff and whatever else we come up with) some life outside of the small stage on which they happen.
All the Showoff gigs run with the same principles and to the same format: a bunch of people sign up to perform for 9 minutes each on a little stage in the back room of a pub (or a boat, or the Bloomsbury Theatre) and then a bigger bunch of people come along and watch them, then chat to them over a drink or two (or seven). The gigs are almost always free to get into (but we do hope you’ll choose to donate to charity).
Showoff in all its forms is totally independent. We have no institutions behind us, which means no marketing budget and no money to pay performers. We’re also a new idea (that never really makes sense until you see it in action) and a group of people with no personal fame or Twitter armies to call on. So how on Earth can we get people to come to our gigs as performers or audience members?
One thing we’ve discovered that works really well is to have a Twitter account that gives you more than gig details. A lot more. A big, messy, incoherent, possibly deranged, certainly over-caffeinated and possibly inappropriate lot more.
@ScienceShowoff has been described as “like watching two people go insane simultaneously” (a Science Showoff Bristol performer), “a bit mad” (Twitter follower) and “not best practice” (a professional online science communicator”. It (and it is an ‘it’. It has a personality totally separate from mine and I take no responsibility for what it does. Sometimes I look at what it has been tweeting and recognise nothing of myself and Suze in it, which suggests that it has taken on its own life, Tyler Durden-style):
* Rows with itself about Disney (rubbish/amazing), chemistry (rubbish/amazing) and Muse (rubbish/amazing).
* Trolls chemists.
* Winds-up chemists.
* Insults chemists.
* Spends whole days fantasising about Nutella (“The Science of Getting Nutella In Your Hair And Not Giving A Damn”).
* Tweets lists of potential cash-in Xmas science book ideas (“The Science of 50 Shades of Grey”).
* Campaigns to become the Director of the British Science Association (and I must emphasise that this isn’t a campaign for any of us who tweet as Showoff to be Director, but for the voice of the Twitter feed itself to be the Director).
* Takes on the personality of TOP scientists in order to tweet made-up facts about their science.
The day @MuseumsShowoff appeared on Twitter, @ScienceShowoff tried to bully the new kid, calling it a “wimp” and telling it to “get back into its dusty storeroom and shut its stupid mouth”. It has also got into rows with numerous science folk who have no sense that irony exists, mainly for its forthright opinions on chemistry.
The best way to describe our methods for getting Showoff into the consciousness of online readers? “Outrage marketing”. I revealed all the secrets at a Bright Club gig at the Bloomsbury Theatre in October. Listen here:
Join us tomorrow for Rachel Souhami’s first Museums Showoff memory. And do follow us on Twitter, if you think you can take the heat.