Off the Top

Baba Brinkman (science rapper, Fringe First winner, and half the cast of Off The Top) really loves his wife. His adoration radiates off him in a warming glow and is very much welcomed by his flustered, soggy audience (the great Scottish weather had not been kind that morning) who traipse into Canon’s Gait.

Brinkman and Berlin should congratulate themselves on a lovely show that would delight children, adults, theatre-nerds and scientists alike.

Grabbing his audience from the start with his endearing, puppy-dog-like disposition, Brinkman introduces himself and his wife, Dr. Heather Berlin, who makes up the other half of the show.

A real-life neuroscientist, Berlin is (as Brinkman repeatedly tells us) not only beautiful, smart and charismatic but a wonderful speaker. In combination with Brinkman and his rapping skills, the couple effortlessly navigate the tricky field of what I am going to call “educational comedy.” The show is based around exploring the functions the brain undergoes when improvising – for example in freestyle rap or improv comedy. Combining Berlin’s engaging lecture-esque talks about the brain and its functions, Brinkman’s own freestyle raps (in order to put Berlin’s neurological language into “layman’s terms”), PowerPoint slides and a few guest comics, the loved-up couple craft a wonderful show that is funny, heart-warming and pleasingly educational.

One of the highlights was a cognitive experiment Berlin conducted on both Brinkman and an unsuspecting audience member. Both were instructed to freestyle rap on a given topic (today’s was the film Forrest Gump) whilst simultaneously typing text about the same topic. Confused? They definitely were. What made this particular segment so excellent, however, was not simply its comedic value. Berlin’s scientific teachings really came through here, as the impossibility of both rapping and writing was unquestioningly palpable. Funny? Yes. Endearing? Yes. Interesting? Hugely.

Two guest comedians helped to nicely break up the hour long show. Providing a welcome respite from all the science, they had the audience in fits. Brinkman and Berlin should congratulate themselves on a lovely show that would delight children, adults, theatre-nerds and scientists alike. Though it may not be the most outstanding work at the Fringe, on a wet Wednesday morning it was just what the doctor ordered (pun intended). I left feeling warm, cheerful and enlightened. 

Reviews by Rose Collard

Canons' Gait

Off the Top

★★★★
Gilded Balloon

Sparrow-Folk: SuBIRDia

★★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Somebody Out There Loves Me

★★

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The Blurb

Fringe First winner and science rapper Baba Brinkman (Rap Guide to Evolution) teams up with neuroscientist Dr Heather Berlin to explore the brain basis of improvisation. What’s going on under the hood when a musician or comic improvises, and why are the spontaneous moments of life the most memorable? A married couple in real life, Baba and Heather share their love of science and creativity, with featured guests and unscripted moments of hilarity. ‘The best show of the Fringe in 2014’ ***** (EdUncovered.com). 'Geek heaven! Who says science is boring?' ***** (TheEdinburghReporter.co.uk).

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