1 Woman, A Dwarf Planet and 2 Cox: Samantha Baines

This is a pleasant, goofy and geeky hour which largely talks about a three point plan to get one woman closer to a Cox. And yes, the Cox in question is Brain – and so it’s appropriate that it’s his song, via D:Ream, that greets the audience as they arrive. Before long, Samantha Baines presents the pull of her show: to combine comedy with science. Or, as she puts it: ‘I’m just a woman who wants to get more use out of her Physics GCSE.’

Baines’ humour is infectious and silly enough to maintain genuine chemistry

The show is less the comedy lecture that some Coxheads might have been hoping for, and more straight stand up. While this means the hour is perhaps softer – even fluffier – than we were expecting, Baines’ humour is infectious and silly enough to maintain genuine chemistry, even if we could have done with more acid in the mix.

The show is packed tightly with puns – each one signalled with the trill of a bell (which, c’mon, absolutely should have been nicknamed Jocelyn) and there are plenty of great gags in the hour, but the best moments are the slightly despairing ones, talking about the impossibility of being able to choose a variety of GCSEs that would enable one to study both the arts and the sciences, or indeed what a lonely place it can be in the science community for women and girls. In fact, the show is most successful when it’s not funny at all: speaking about the well-meaning but clumsy ways multi-national companies try to stick their branding on the current fashionably of feminism, or the erasing of female achievements in science.

There’s exasperation expressed at how female astronauts are quizzed about their grooming habits in a way that their male counterparts are not. Apparently, in space nobody can hear your regime. This briefly segues into a discussion of the way that women are viewed in the world of comedy. None of this is a polemic or soap-box discussion, although Baines herself slyly mentions that her stage persona is non-threatening, underlining the point that if she were angrier, her audiences might stop listening.

There’s a beautifully emotional beat to end the show, reclaiming a misogynist obituary and finally delivering the punchline on the most obvious pun of the evening. In order to truly give you an accurate reading of the show, we’d need to see the same jokes again with a different audience (you know, like a real science experiment), but it’s safe to say that this is a funny, sweet show where everything is perfectly aligned. 

Reviews by Andrew Allen

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The Blurb

Award-winning comedian Samantha Baines ('The Crown', BBC Radio, 'Call the Midwife') brings her smash-hit, five-star show to Brighton, after a twenty-eight show sell-out run in Edinburgh. Sam needs space... The final frontier one. It’s science meets funny. There will be puns, there will be facts, there’ll even be Cox (Brian). “One of the best comedians on the circuit” ***** (Comedy Coroner), “A fantastic show” (Ed Festivals Mag), “Genius” **** (The Mumble), “Multi-faceted talent” **** (Arts Award Voice), “Fabulous” (BBC Science Focus), “One hour of brilliant comedy” **** (Funny Women).

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